A timeline of events at Bury FC

On this week’s podcast, we had Jamie Hoyles on to tell us about the financial woes that have plagued Bury FC. He put together the below timeline of events that go back as far as 2002, with a vast history of financial difficulties that have placed it on the brink of collapse this week.

  • 2002 – ITV Digital collapses. It is the rights holder for the Football League, having signed a multi-million pound deal that it ultimately couldn’t afford. Massive effect on clubs like Barnsley, Bradford, and Bury who are forced into administration. Bury also owe a £1m mortgage on the ground, at 15% interest, guaranteed by former chairman Hugh Eaves… who had run out of money after losing £20m shortly prior. 
  • Forever Bury is formed to stop the club being liquidated. Their Save our Shakers campaign masterminded by Neville Neville stops the club from folding and eventually allows the club to exit administration. Bucket shakers! One of my earliest memories – £10 in the pot. 
  • Bury jumps from local businessman to local businessman as chairman over the following years, and FB retains a major shareholding. A little-known goalkeeper called Kasper Schmeichel keeps Bury in the Football League at Notts County in 2007 and later calls it an experience more stressful than a Premier League title race. The community continues to pledge that we’d never end up in the same situation as 2002… 
  • Cut to 2013: Bury is ‘hours away’ from folding. Stewart Day, a Burnley-based property developer, steps in and stops the club from going under. 
  • Stewart Day announces a 5 year plan for Championship football at Gigg Lane, including a 20,000-seater out-of-town stadium and hotel facilities. Thus begins the borrowing… 
  • Like at the turn of the century, Stewart Day’s company, Mederco, takes out a £1m mortgage against the ground. Unlike Hugh Eaves, it’s at 138% interest, and the club itself acts as guarantor. This is just the start… 
  • By the start of 2018, Stewart Day has invested millions through his company Mederco, and the club has a £2.2m mortgage on the ground. Of that £2.2m, 40% is never even seen by the club and goes to a still-ascertained third party. 
  • Meanwhile, having signed the likes of Jermaine Beckford, Harry Bunn, and Chris Maguire on a last-ditch attempt to make his 5 year plan come true and ensure promotion to the Championship, Bury are relegated to League Two that season. County court judgements and winding up petitions continue to pile up, as they have throughout Day’s ownership, including 3 in quick succession throughout 2016.  
  • In December 2018, Stewart Day runs out of money and quickly sells the club to a businessman called Steve Dale. Fans research Dale and realise his entire business history is that of asset stripping insolvent companies. He assures the public that he’s had a new lease of life since battling leukaemia and that he’s in it to rehabilitate kids on Carrington 
  • Early 2019: Stewart Day’s property empire, Mederco, collapses into administration, taking out the P2P lender Lendly with it. Bury Football Club reportedly owes it £7m in inter-company loans A Financial Times investigation follows. Meanwhile, staff start to report not having their wages paid since Dale took over, and the club has a winding up hearing adjourned brought by former player Chris Brass. 
  • In May, Chris Brass reaches an agreement with Steve Dale to withdraw the WUP, however HMRC take over the petition. The winding up petition gets adjourned yet again on the basis that there are 3 credible parties ready to take over the club. Bury, with players still not being paid, win promotion to League One. 
  • With Dale’s promised bidders nowhere in sight, staff and players still aren’t being paid. Instead, at the end of June, he negotiates a CVA with the club’s creditors to pay them 25p in the pound, and full repayment for footballing creditors (the minimum under EFL regulations). The mortgage on the ground, now standing at £3.7m with interest accruing at a rate of £1,500 a day, is not part of this CVA. 
  • The CVA is rejected, with a majority of creditors failing to pass it. Almost immediately, a claim is added to the CVA from a new company called RCR Holdings, who have bought the right to claim the £7.1m of Mederco debt from Mederco’s administrators. With the support of RCR, the CVA passes, and Bury FC are deducted 12 points for the upcoming 2019/2020 season. 
  • Meanwhile, still not being paid, players and staff are starting to leave the club. Lowe goes to Plymouth, taking Mayor, Moore and Telford with him. Pre-season friendlies are farcical, with the one I attended at Nantwich naming a team sheet comprised almost entirely of trialists. 
  • As August approaches, and with it the start of a new season, the EFL is still waiting for Steve Dale to provide proof he has the funds required to complete the season. He contends that a £1.5m credit facility has been made available to him, but the EFL wants to see the proof – which he cannot provide in an adequate manner. As such, they suspend the first game of the season, with Bury having a grand total of 5 or 6 contracted players. 
  • Game after game is suspended, with no resolution in sight. The buyers that Steve Dale mentioned have vanished. Community groups and local MPs are trying to find and introduce buyers, to no avail. Eventually, the EFL activates the notice of expulsion, giving the Steve Dale 14 days (until Friday 23rd August) to prove he has the financial ability to complete the season, sell the club to someone who does, or face expulsion.  
  • Two weeks come and go, with Bury FC being expelled from the Carabao Cup after failing to complete a tie against Sheffield Wednesday. Steve Dale clashes on TalkSport with Stephen Dawson, ex-club captain, who tells him he’s about to lose his house if Bury go under. Dale says he’s paid him, Dawson (and other players) correctly maintain that 50% of their wages for 2 months from the PFA doesn’t count as payment.  
  • Steve Dale rejects a myriad of offers in this time, including from the ex-chairmen of Gateshead, Notts Forest, and Smurfwaite from Port Vale: hardly known for running clubs well. 
  • Friday 9AM. Steve Dale starts a nationwide media tour instead of listening to offers.  He starts trying to raise £2.7m from fans so that he can keep control of the club. He’s laughed out of the room, and by 2PM is telling everyone what a great job he’s done. At 7PM, he tells two prospective bidders and Forever Bury, who have been working with them, that he will be “the last chairman of Bury Football Club”.  
  • Pandemonium, chaos, and panic at Gigg Lane. One of the bidders goes on Sky Sports News and goes public about Steve Dale’s threat to wind up the club. At 10PM, he texts every journalist in sight saying that he’s sold the club… and Forever Bury confirm that he’s accepted a bid. Pandemonium, chaos, and joy at Gigg Lane!  
  • The new buyers, C&N Sports Management, comprise of Henry Newman (ex-Barnet coach) and Rory Campbell (Alistair’s son, analyst for sports and gambling) request an extension from the EFL in order to complete due diligence and get the deal over the line. The EFL gives them until Tuesday 5PM – 1 working day. C&N Sports Management indicate their frustration via a statement on Saturday, indicating their legal advisor was unavailable until Wednesday. 
  • Sunday dawns, and Debbie Jevans stars her own media tour. She tells the Sportsman than an extension would be possible if the deal was 99% done, and tells Radio 5 Live half an hour later that the deadline was “definitive”.  
  • Monday – when we’re recording this – there’s no news. As we record this, there’s less than 24 hours for a deal to be done, and no update on if it will be. Due diligence and agreeing the terms of sale and particulars takes weeks in any regular company, let alone football: fans and Forever Bury are quietly confident that a deal can be done. However, if it does get completed, then it will be an absolutely spectacular effort from the legal team to get it over the line in such a short space of time. At the club, people are preparing the stadium, volunteers are cleaning and painting, and tickets are being sold. Smurfwaite maybe – EFL regs? One way or another, we’ll know on Tuesday…   
  • KEN ANDERSON SECRED CHARGE – motivation? EFL regs uncovered

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