Threat of possible expulsion from Football League still hanging over Bury | Football
Bury still face a threat of being expelled from the Football League after 125 years of membership if the owner, Steve Dale, does not provide the EFL with evidence that he has the funding to pay former players and full-time staff, and to run the club this season.
The EFL has suspended the club’s first fixture, against MK Dons on Saturday, stating that Dale has not shown them the required “proof of funds” and that he must provide it by 12 pm on Friday or the scheduled second match, away at Accrington Stanley, will also be suspended.
If that does happen, the EFL board will then meet to review Bury’s overall situation and a possible expulsion from the league is among the options it could then consider. If that were to happen, the EFL clarified that League One would be played with 23 rather than 24 clubs and next season an extra club would be promoted from League Two.
Speaking to the Guardian the EFL’s executive chair, Debbie Jevans, said: “We asked for ‘sufficiency of funds’ to demonstrate that Bury can compete, that staff are being paid on and off the pitch. We gave a deadline for that information, it was a real deadline, I spoke to Mr Dale, he was aware of it and, when it didn’t come through, we took the only decision we could.
“Now we need the information by this Friday or else the Accrington Stanley match will be suspended. And at that point the board will meet to review the future. You can’t go through a whole season one match at a time.”
Dale said in a forthright statement on Tuesday that he had indeed provided the EFL with proof of funds, including to cope as requested with a possible £1.5m loss which he described as “fictional”. But Jevans said that the EFL had asked for evidence that former players – who were part of the squad which won promotion from League Two in May but then revealed they had not been paid since February – have now been paid all the money owing to them.
Full-time staff must now also be paid in full, as they are classed as “football creditors” in any insolvency procedure, such as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which Bury entered into last month.
At the time of the CVA, in which Dale committed to paying “non-football creditors” 25p for every pound owed, players were stated to have been owed £405,815, within a total of almost £1m owed to football creditors. No separate category was noted for wages owed to full-time staff.
Jevans said the EFL has also been asking for evidence that: “The club could operate for a season, which means running a stadium, paying players, staff, stewards; we asked for that in very simple terms. Currently we have not received what we have asked for.”
Dale told the Guardian in response that the CVA will be financed and cover the former players’ wages, that he is still in discussions with the EFL over the “mythical £1.5m,” and said that current players have all been paid.
Jevans added that the EFL will reflect on its rules governing takeovers in the light of the crisis at Bury which has followed Dale’s £1 takeover in December, as part of the league’s ongoing review of its governance.