Bury’s expulsion from the English Football League is a “tragedy”, says Sports Minister Nigel Adams.
The financially stricken League One club lost their place in the EFL late on Tuesday night after a proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk fell through earlier in the day.
“This is a very dark day for English football,” Adams said in a statement.
“It is a tragedy for the fans of Bury, the local community and everyone connected with the historic club.”
He added: “There will be a huge amount of anger and disbelief about how this happened.
“I have been in regular contact with the EFL and it is right that they closely review the processes at Bury to see if any lessons can be learned.
“The club’s passionate fans don’t deserve to go through this. I hope once the dust has settled they can begin to rebuild and take inspiration from other clubs that have done so before them.”
‘Insurmountable’ financial challenges
The businessmen who pulled out of a plan to take over Bury say they could not overcome the financial problems the club was facing.
C&N Sporting Risk’s bid was the only one the EFL would consider, despite reports of other potential buyers coming in around the 17:00 BST deadline on Tuesday,
“We were just going to face challenges that were insurmountable to allow us to do what we wanted to do if we took over the club,” C&N’s Rory Campbell told BBC Radio 5 Live.
But C&N said the club’s complicated financial structures were too difficult for it to sort out before the deadline passed.
“We did absolutely everything we could to try and get everything in place to try and make sure the takeover went through,” added Campbell’s colleague Henry Newman.
“Ultimately though, it was six years of a combination of financial mismanagement, errors in governance and issues that ultimately meant that to unravel them, in what was a short period of time, were incredibly difficult.”
‘Something like this can’t happen again’
While neither Campbell nor Newman would go into specifics about the finances of the club, Bury had complicated leasing arrangements for their Gigg Lane ground, car parks and had a number of outstanding loans.
“The financial structures that were put in place were something that I’d never seen before and certainly were unsustainable,” Newman added.
“My sympathy really does go out to the community as a whole at Bury because ultimately they’re the ones that have suffered as a result of this.
“It was financially unsustainable and it’s absolutely imperative that structures are put in place to ensure that something like this can’t happen again.”
Fans to discuss Bury future
The focus now turns to what next for Bury.
With the club expelled from the EFL, they will not be able to play again until next season at the earliest, and then it will be at a non-league level.
The Football Association have also confirmed that Bury will “no longer be able to participate” in this season’s FA Cup following Tuesday’s events.
The FA added: “If the club re-forms, we look forward to them applying to make an application to The Football Association to rejoin league competition further down the English football pyramid from the 2020-21 season.”
“We have got a meeting this morning to look at our next move. What we would like to do is try and save this football club,” Dave Giffard, chair of Forever Bury Supporters Club, told BBC Breakfast.
“If we have to restart as a phoenix club we would like to get hold of this ground. We have the support of the council.”
‘The proof of funding was there’
Giffard was also critical of the EFL, which expelled the club despite reports of late bids for Bury coming in on Tuesday.
“The annoying thing is we had three more buyers there and the League wanted exclusivity with the one deal to concentrate on getting that through,” he said.
“So we threw the other three in on the table last night. The proof of funding was there. Why they couldn’t give us that little bit more time to get one over the line, we don’t know.
“They have made their decision. Whether we have a right of appeal I don’t know.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association, which has stepped in to help pay some of the players’ wages in recent months, said it will “continue to support all of our members who have been impacted by the current situation, including former players, the remaining players who are contracted at the club and also those who were hoping to sign contracts”.
Their statement added: “Our thoughts in particular go out to the supporters, the town and the wider community who will be devastated by this news.”
‘Most clubs are paying too much for players’
Bury’s expulsion follows success on the pitch last season when they finished second in League Two and won promotion back to the third tier, having been relegated in 2018.
Former Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says Bury’s problems stemmed from chasing promotion without the finances to pay for it.
“Over the years some quite strange people have taken over and run football clubs and they don’t necessarily know how to run them,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The real issue is most football clubs at the lower levels are paying too much for the players. What is remarkable is that this doesn’t happen more often.
“In the end if you’re paying so much to buy players or for their wages and you’re not getting that sort of money in, it’s not a business at all is it?
“Whether the Football League has got the nerve to bring in wage caps and all those sorts of things will be interesting.”