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Fans mourn as the lights go out at Bury FC for the last time | UK News

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At close to midnight last night, the lights went out at Gigg Lane, the sign which reads Bury Football Club plunged into darkness one final time. 

A few fans were still present. Some had been at the stadium for more than 14 hours, experiencing the full tumult of emotions chronicled by the TV cameras and reporters’ dictaphones.

Hundreds of volunteers had hopefully presented at Gigg Lane at 9am, many with armfuls of cleaning products and mops, scrubbing the floors and the seats inside. After several false dawns, they were preparing to finally see Bury play for the first time this season, against Doncaster on Saturday.

BURY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Bury FC fans and hundreds of volunteers clean their stadium as they await a decision on the future of the club on August 27, 2019 in Bury, England. Bury Football Club had an eleventh hour offer to buy the club by C&N Sporting Risk Ltd. The deadline by the English Football League (EFL)  was extended to today for the club to prove it can operate and meet the criteria of the EFL. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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Volunteers scrubbed the stadium in the hope of seeing a match this weekend

“The stadium looked as clean and sparkling as it ever has, we were all excited,” one of them said.

That fixture will not happen. Not on Saturday, not ever. Bury football club as we know it, as this town has known it for the last 134 years, will not play again.

The death knell sounded at 11.04pm, closely followed by a statement from the EFL.

It read: “The EFL met and, after a long and detailed discussion, determined that Bury FC’s membership of the English Football League be withdrawn after the deadline passed at 5pm today without a successful resolution.”

Men and women, teenagers and pensioners, sobbed. Arms wrapped round each other, they stood in stunned silence. After a proposed takeover deal by C&N Sporting Risk fell through in the afternoon, the news wasn’t a surprise but it still hurt like hell.

Nestled between rows of red brick terraced houses, the football club, as one fan put it, was the heart beat of the town. It wasn’t just a sporting team, it was the centre of a community, a form of therapy at the end of a long working week, many of their supporters from working class backgrounds gathering at the pubs beforehand to let off steam.



Former Bury FC director Joy Hart handcuffs herself to a drain pipe at the club's ground



Former director handcuffs herself to Bury FC

Kenny Hindle, a 78 year old with learning difficulties, had been coming to Bury since he was eight years old.

“All I have is my TV and Bury FC,” he said. “I can’t imagine my life without it.”

Steven Farrar had proposed to his fiancée just outside the main gates at the stadium and had hoped to hold their wedding reception at the social club.

“That’s not going to happen, none of that’s ever going to happen now,” he said.

“Bury FC is my life, I’ve made 90% of my friends here. I proposed here because it felt like the right time and the right place.

“I’m just devastated, lost for words.”

Sammy Bowker doesn’t even like football but she worked on the turnstiles, like her father had done before her.

“My late dad was a huge Bury fan and so is my son,” she said.

“I just feel so sad and so angry. The people have been forgotten about.”







‘Bury shows English football is broken’

Questions will be rightly asked. About why the EFL sanctioned Steven Dale to buy the club for just £1 without providing proof that he had the funds to support their participation in the league. About whether the “fit and proper persons test” introduced by the Premier League and the EFL as a sort of quality control for prospective owners is fit for purpose, given that the previous owner Stewart Day was able to run up more than £7million of debt against the club.

There will also be debate about the dispersion of money in football. Within 15 miles of Bury are Manchester United and Manchester City, two of the richest football clubs in the world. Could they have done more to help, and should they have done? Can we expect one football club to bail out another just because they can afford to?

What cannot be disputed is the ever expanding gulf in wealth between Premier League clubs – the haves – and every other club, the have nots.

The latest domestic TV rights deal saw the 20 Premier League clubs secure £5.1billion over three years. For the EFL that figure was vastly reduced, worth £595million over five years and shared between 72 clubs.

Bury players celebrate after being crowned Division two champions in 1997
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Bury players celebrate after being crowned Division two champions in 1997

But still, it does not stop some of those clubs spending beyond their means, sometimes in search of promotion to the Premier League and sometimes just to remain competitive in their own division.

Just down the road in Bolton, the picture was also bleak. The EFL has given them 14 days to to find a buyer or prove they have the funds to complete the season or face the same fate as Bury.

In recent years, Oldham Athletic, Coventry City, Southend United and others have also stared down financial strife, struggling to even pay wages.

What is certain is that, unless something materially changes, more clubs will face the same problems as Bury. Some will limp on, others will go the same way as Bury, the first club since 1992 to be ejected in this way and the only one which had previously won the FA Cup.

Their fans, too, will stand in the dark wondering how on earth this was allowed to happen.

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