By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER (Reuters) – One of English football’s oldest clubs, Bury, face expulsion from the professional game if they fail to prove on Friday to the Football League (EFL) that they have solved their financial problems.
The EFL has said the club from Greater Manchester must prove it can satisfy creditors and show enough operational funding for the current season but the league has said it is frustrated by a lack of response to previous demands.
In practical terms Bury owner Steve Dale, who bought the club for one pound last year, inheriting the debt, would need to have a new investor or buyer in place by midnight on Friday or the club will lose its Football League status.
That would mean expulsion from the EFL and the only way the club could continue would be to reapply to join a league further down the English pyramid for the 2020-21 season.
James Frith, member of parliament for Bury North, had written to the EFL this week urging them to give the club an extension in order to facilitate a potential sale.
On Thursday, EFL executive chairman Debbie Jevans offered some flexibility by telling the Bury Times newspaper that an extension could be granted “if there is a credible option”.
Jevans said she was upset by the situation of fans facing losing their club but said the league had to act responsibly.
“I absolutely hate it. It is horrid. Football can’t be in this situation,” she said.
“But we have a duty of care to protect the integrity of the league and how in our right mind can we allow a club to continue when there is no proof that they can pay wages?”
Bury joined the Football League in 1894, nine years after they were founded and they have always played at their Gigg Lane ground.
They won the FA Cup twice, in 1900 and 1903, the latter of which was won 6-0 against Derby County, a record win in an FA Cup final, equalled this year by Manchester City’s victory over Watford.
Although the team, nicknamed ‘The Shakers’ have not been in the top flight since 1929, they were in the second tier as recently as 1999.
They won promotion to the third tier League One last season but in July they were given a 12-point deduction after entering into a company voluntary arrangement to try to clear some of their debts.
Bury have had the first six matches of the season suspended and were kicked out of the League Cup (Carabao Cup).
Media reports have suggested there could be as many as four potential buyers for the club but no deal has yet emerged.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)