THE MAYOR of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has intervened in the financial crisis affecting Bury FC, writing to the English Football League (EFL) requesting urgent action be taken to save the football club.
Bury FC, a League One side that is 134 years old, is in severe financial difficulty.
All its league games to date have been postponed this season while the EFL seeks assurances that the club can pay its creditors and secure financial stability. Unless a last-minute extension is granted, the Shakers face expulsion from the Football League tomorrow should a buyer not be found.
Burnham,a former Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a passionate football supporter himself, has challenged the EFL to reassess its protocols surrounding so-called “fit and proper tests” for prospective owners when purchasing clubs.
Andy said: “All football supporters in Greater Manchester have been looking on in horror as two of our great names have sunk deeper and deeper into crisis. The situation now at Bury is acute and that is why I am making a direct appeal to the EFL to step in and save a footballing institution with 134 years of proud history.
“I know I speak for each and every football fan here in Greater Manchester when I say we all stand in complete solidarity with Shakers supporters. Our city-region has done so much to build our great game over the decades and we are now all looking to those who run our game to intervene and secure the future of Bury football club.”
Greater Manchester has a proud footballing history and strong connections to the Football League, which was founded in Manchester in 1888. With 279 years of history in our conurbation between Bury and Bolton, the Mayor described the prospect of losing either team through financial difficulty as “a real tragedy”.
In his letter to Debbie Jevans, Executive Chair of the EFL, Andy writes: “I fully accept that the EFL cannot bail out the club, nor can financial mismanagement within clubs become normalised. Nonetheless, I feel that the complex circumstances surrounding Bury’s current difficulties are exceptional and merit an alternative approach.
“Given the urgency of Bury’s plight, I would be grateful if you would consider intervening on this occasion and granting the club a one-off extension based on an explicit agreement that new ownership be actively sought and demonstrated, as James Frith MP has recommended.”
The Mayor also raised concerns with the EFL regarding the current plight of Bolton Wanderers who, despite playing in the English Premier League as recently as 2012, have experienced a sustained period of financial upheaval and are currently a club in administration. The Trotters have few senior players and are reliant on youth team members to fulfill fixtures, while the wage bill for players, coaches and other behind-the-scenes staff has regularly gone unpaid.
On Bolton’s current difficulties, the Mayor told the EFL: “Financial instability has dogged the Wanderers since their relegation from the Premier League. Mismanagement has brought the club to its knees over the course of the last season: players have gone months without their wages being paid; emergency foodbanks have been established to feed unpaid Bolton Wanderers staff; youth teams have been mobilised to honour fixtures and the club’s manager has now left as well.
“Regardless of the issues frustrating the sale of the club, the impact upon players, fans and staff at Bolton Wanderers has been catastrophic. For the sake of fans and the town, means must be sought to safeguard the club and its staff, ensure its survival.”