Bury expelled from EFL: Shakers threaten league with legal action

By Dan RoanBBC sports editor
Bury fans outside Gigg Lane
Bury supporters gathered outside the club's Gigg Lane ground before the initial deadline on Friday

Bury are "actively considering" legal action against the English Football League following the club's "unfair" expulsion on Tuesday.

Members of the club's executive met on Friday to discuss their options, having earlier sent the EFL a letter questioning its handling of the affair.

The Shakers were expelled after C&N Sporting Risk pulled out of a takeover.

"All options are on the table. One that has to be considered is legal action," said the club's lawyer Chris Farnell.

"At least three bids went in on Friday before the deadline. The EFL allowed an extension for one bid - from C&N - but other bids were attracted and submitted to the EFL and it would appear they weren't considered.

"There's been no explanation."

Meanwhile, owner Steve Dale released a statement later on Friday calling for an independent report to be carried out in relation to Bury's expulsion and asking for a ballot of the EFL's 72 clubs to potentially reverse the decision.

In a club statement issued on Thursday, Bury confirmed the EFL would not be rescinding its decision to expel the club - despite the Shakers saying a £7m takeover bid had been submitted prior to Tuesday's second deadline.

The club have since sent a letter to the EFL setting out a list of questions - seen by BBC Sport - including:

  • Why a late £7m bid from Brazilian multi-millionaire pastor Gustavo Benedito, which emerged on Tuesday afternoon, was not accepted. Benedito is a close friend of Bury's goalkeeping coach Adriano Basso.
  • Why the EFL said that a bid from an Italian consortium had not been received when the club insist it had.
  • Why the offer from C&N Sporting Risk was the only one accepted by the EFL and the only one granted an extension.
  • Why is it proportionate to consider dropping Bury five leagues - the club want the EFL to consider dropping them down to League Two instead.
  • Why owner Steve Dale passed the fit and proper person test.
  • Why the EFL refused to meet with representatives of Bury on Friday.
  • Why ex-Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite was not considered to be an appropriate owner.

Bury, who had been in the EFL for 125 years and have twice won the FA Cup, have given the league until 16:00 BST to respond to their letter.

"It seems to be very unfair on Bury because of an artificial timeline," Farnell told BBC Sport.

"The decision to, in effect, kill a club has been made without any explanation as to why a very genuine bid from a very high-net worth individual would not be considered."

Farnell held a meeting with members of the club's executive and coaching staff, including manager Paul Wilkinson, former club secretary Jill Neville, general manager Scott Johnson, and club consultant - the former Cardiff and Wolves manager - Dave Jones.

Johnson said there is "a lot of people wanting answers over their future".

"I was giving them solutions and all we needed them to do was be brave," he added.

Shakers supporters group Forever Bury have also written to the EFL's executive chair Debbie Jevans asking for the club to be reinstated.

"The EFL's misguided handling of this matter has directly prejudiced the interests all Bury FC stakeholders including its creditors, shareholders, players and employees and we reserve all our rights to hold the EFL accountable in this respect," said the letter.

The EFL said it had received the correspondence from Forever Bury and would "respond appropriately" after "considering its contents".

Gigg Lane will be safe - Dale

Dale's statement was critical of the club's previous owners and the EFL, accusing it of having an "agenda" against Bury.

Throughout Bury's struggles, the EFL has always maintained that it has acted in the best interests of the club and has attempted to work with them to find a positive resolution to their financial issues.

The Bury owner said he is in talks with the loan company which has a charge on the club's Gigg Lane stadium, which he says "will be safe" as he works towards an agreement that would put capital repayments on hold for two years and reduce the interest rate.

"The CVA, the removal from the league and its financial implications has a huge effect on this, however, if you want me to stay I will do all I can in whatever way I can, because if this gets finalised we have no threats to our club and we're safe to fight another day," he said.

Dale also confirmed there had been an offer made for the club and added: "If the fans want me out, I will sell to him."

Timeline: Bury expelled from the EFL

  • 30 July: EFL suspends first Bury game of season as club are asked to prove financial viability
  • 9 Aug: Bury are given until 23:59 BST on Friday, 23 August to provide "clarity required" as third game is called off
  • 20 Aug: Sixth Shakers game suspended, while owner Steve Dale rejects offer to buy club
  • 23 Aug: Bury granted extension until 17:00 BST on Tuesday, 27 August after bid from C&N Sporting Risk
  • 27 Aug: EFL expel Bury after C&N Sporting Risk withdraws interest
  • 29 Aug: Bury claim EFL will not rescind expulsion, despite the club revealing a further £7m takeover bid
  • 30 Aug: Bury write to EFL as club "actively considers" legal action