Every EFL supporter wants to see Est. 1885 succeed with their ambitious plans to establish a Bury FC team in the football pyramid by 2022/23 after two and a half years in the darkness, writes Laura Lawrence.
Bury FC’s Gigg Lane has a Banksy-style graffiti mural outside the ground. It portrays a small girl with pigtails reaching to write the words “Save us” across the crumbling red brick wall. An innocent soul expressing the most poignant of statements.
It looks eerie on the abandoned ground. Trees sprout from the tops of the stand and moss grows on the concrete where studs once eagerly clacked, waiting to grace the pitch.
It’s been two and half years since Bury FC went out of business and were expelled from the football league. Two and half years of grieving for the supporters but they never entered the fifth stage of grief: acceptance.
Over these years fan-led groups have been trying to put into action what the little pigtailed girl was pleading for: to save the heritage and history of Gigg Lane and Bury FC. By Christmas there may be a little more to cheer in the Shakers stockings. Est. 1885, the fan-led group, released a statement to announce that with the help of other Bury supporters’ groups and local “benefactors”, they had signed an agreement “for exclusivity to buy Bury FC”. These exclusivity rights include the Gigg Lane stadium, all memorabilia and any intellectual property including the trademarks.
Est. 1885, the fan-led group, released a statement to announce that with the help of other Bury supporters’ groups and local “benefactors”, they had signed an agreement “for exclusivity to buy Bury FC”. These exclusivity rights include the Gigg Lane stadium, all memorabilia and any intellectual property including the trademarks.
The aim of the fan groups is to resurrect Bury FC and to install a team into the football pyramid as soon as the 2022/23 season. Gigg Lane will also become a multi-purpose community asset proving that Steve Dale may have stripped the club of its wealth but not its purpose in Bury.
The future of Bury FC is ambitious. Not only do they want to rise like a phoenix, the intention is to become a majority fan-owned club, be sustainable and debt-free. The John Lewis business model but for football clubs.
Is it a realistic dream?
The finance still has to be raised. The statement implied that there is a current bid of funds from abroad which is pending government approval. What the Bury fan-led groups need now is stamina and to look north of the border for a tale of success.
Hearts are currently second in the Scottish Premiership. In 2013 they were on the brink of liquidation but they are now the biggest community-owned football club in Britain. Around eight thousand fans own their club through the Foundation of Hearts Supporters’ Trust. Raising money through membership schemes, they still required benefactors such as local businesswoman Ann Budge who loaned the trust £2.5million to push the deal through.
The trust has now paid back every penny of this loan and owns the club outright.
Bury needs this kind of investor. Someone with patience and the ability to provide low interest loans to give the club breathing space. The new roots need time to settle before the flowers see the sunlight.
There is a fear in the back of most EFL and non-league supporters that this could one day happen at their club. Every ‘legacy’ football fan wants to see Bury rise again and flourish under its supporters. It gives us hope that there is life after death.
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