Dale claims Bury have been sold with hours to spare
Club was on the brink of going out of business.
Bury could have been given an 11th-hour reprieve after owner Steve Dale told the PA news agency he had sold the club.
Dale had been given until 23.59 on Friday to either provide proof to the English Football League he could fund the League One side this season or hand it over to someone who can.
Extinction was the option if not but, after a day of claim and counter-claim, Dale told PA he had agreed a deal.
It is understood the EFL is aware of Dale’s claim of a sale and is investigating as a matter of urgency.
Dale has not confirmed who he has sold to, but Rory Campbell and Henry Newman’s C&N Sporting Risk did make a bid on Friday, having been working closely with Bury North MP James Frith, and appear to be in the box seat.
They told PA in a statement: “‘We can confirm that over the past 10 weeks we have been in discussions with Bury FC, the EFL and others with a view to putting forward a proposal to buy the club.
“It is a very complicated scenario and there remain a number of outstanding legal and other issues that have to be addressed. Our background is in football and data analytics and it should therefore not be surprising that we are taking a very detailed forensic look at the realities of Bury FC finances.
“A club like Bury ought to have a viable long-term future even if the short-term future is clearly very challenging. To that end we have been in discussions with the EFL about an extension so that we can continue to explore the prospects for a purchase. We will be making no further comment at this stage.”
Dale’s declaration of a sale came just before 10pm, with a little over two hours remaining.
The Cheshire-based businessman said throughout the day he had a buyer lined up but was unsure if a deal could be concluded before the deadline, having also asked fans to pledge money, while Bury North MP James Frith had said a “credible bid” would be lodged along with proof of funding.
In a 5pm statement the EFL said it had seen little progress, but it was understood that by early evening it was aware of offers which Dale needed to consider in order to make progress. It now remains to be seen if the EFL will grant an extension, as had been said earlier in the week.
“As of 5pm there has been limited progress made either by the current ownership providing the required evidence in regard to outstanding financial information, or through a change of control being achieved with new owners,” read an EFL statement.
“The EFL will continue to provide all support available and will keep working to find a resolution to the ongoing issues ahead of the notice of withdrawal deadline, which remains at 11.59pm on Friday August 23.
“If a successful solution is not found ahead of tonight’s deadline, the club’s share in the EFL will be withdrawn and its membership in the league will come to an end.”
Dale bought Bury for £1 in December after previous owner Stewart Day ran up huge debts following years of overspending at Gigg Lane.
Having initially claimed to buy Bury for “philanthropic” reasons, Dale put the 134-year-old club into administration this summer and engineered a debt repayment scheme.
The scheme, known as a company voluntary arrangement, would see creditors paid only 25 per cent of what they are owed, with him and his associates being the main beneficiaries.
His plan, however, depended on Bury being allowed to start the season – with a small squad and skeleton staff – and the EFL handing over the club’s share of its central income.
That, as desperate Bury fans are well aware, has not happened.
Having previously greeted each EFL postponement of a Bury game – five league fixtures and an EFL Cup tie so far this season – with an angry statement on the club website, Dale announced he was willing to listen to offers for the club early last week.
England women’s team manager Phil Neville revealed that his mother Jill, who had been Bury’s club secretary, resigned from her job on Friday.
The former Manchester United defender, whose late father Neville has a stand named after him at Gigg Lane, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “My mum has worked there for 30 years, my dad’s got a stand named after him and to consider that today they might not have a football club is so upsetting.
“My mum’s devastated. She resigned on Friday because she couldn’t work with the current ownership.”