The Demise of Bury FC

Bury FC, a beautifully historic football league club. Two times FA Cup winners and the only club to score 1,000 goals in each of the four English professional tiers. Yet the unfortunate victims of disastrous ownership through Stewart Day and Steve Dale and the victims of collapsing business’. On the 27th August 2019, months without payment for all involved at the football club, Bury’s doomed fate was confirmed : Bury FC to be expelled from the football league. This piece explores the two men who destroyed a once proud football town. 

In 2013, Stewart Day was announced as the new owner of Bury Football Club. This can be seen as the start of a proud clubs demise to what is effectively football depression. Day was a 31 year old property entrepreneur who built up a ‘successful’ business specialising in the building of student accommodation and development sites throughout Lancashire and Yorkshire. The money which Day received through this would be spent on Bury FC. However, his company, Mederco, soon collapsed due to administration which left a reported £150million owned to lenders, creditors and hundreds of unfortunate investors who had paid deposits on the exchange of units. This was the earliest sign that Day was truthfully not much of a ‘successful businessman’. This meant that his ownership of Bury FC was being destroyed as he had previously granted the clubs footballers huge contracts which matched his ambition to strive upwards of the football tiers. Stewart Day blamed national difficulties such as Brexit and national tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower for the struggles both subjects placed on entrepreneurship. Brexit placed a difficulty for European students to attend English universities. The cladding on the Grenfell Tower led to major problems for two of the company’s near completed blocks in Huddersfield. To help the football club earn money, Day decided to sell Gigg Lane’s car park spaces at £10,000 each, he proposed the idea of developing facilities/hosting events or building a new stadium in this location. Although the idea never rose to fruition, the money earned promised a 9% net yield from annual rents for 24 years. Day’s struggles with Mederco worsened as investors called for a serious fraud office investigation into how the schemes were marketed and how the money was actually spent. However, Day insisted he had done nothing wrong and was merely a victim of Lendy’s collapse ‘I’ve never wanted to lose anyone’s money’.  

Due to Mederco’s failings of administration ,meaning people involved with Bury FC weren’t getting paid, Stewart Day could do nothing other than place the football club cheaply up for sale. 

In December 2018, businessman Steve Dale became owner of Bury Football Club through the purchase of £1. However, Bury’s future fate had happened to many of Dale’s business’ previously. It is known that 43 of Dale’s 51 previous business associations have been liquidated. This was extremely concerning to supporters especially due to the ‘brassic’ state the club had been left in by Stewart Day. The EFL soon admitted that they didn’t put Dale through usual process’ of due diligence as the club’s future was under threat.

At the time of purchasing the football club, Dale knew of the difficulty that was ahead for his already struggling status. He told BBC Radio Manchester ‘We’re not magicians, the club is in a mess’. Yet promised ‘We will turn it around’ this left the supporters with a minor sense of satisfaction but with a major sense of hope and optimism. Steve Dale initially wanted to be liked.

Due to the disastrous state the football club was in when Dale took over, his purchase was effectively business suicide and certainly an impossible job. 

He started with the ambition to stabilise Bury and with the wanted representation of a good businessman who put the club before his personal greed. He claimed he was ‘a community man’ and to satisfy fans he claimed ‘The club will not close’. He also had an ambition to ‘Build at carrington’ which was a horrendous statement considering the lack of money available for wages throughout the club.

However, as he realised the difficulty of the task ahead : to stabilise the football club, his demise became noticeable. Quotes he had previously said turned out to be of no visible relevance. The community he had once exclaimed to be supporting was turned against him as their football clubs future looked bleak. Months had passed without wages being fulfilled, for everyone involved with the football club and as fixtures were getting postponed, fans discontent grew.

He soon became determined to sell the club. However, for his personal gain he placed a selling price of £2million. This would’ve been more importantly spent on the club instead of feeding the greed for wealth.

Steve Dale started to make media appearances, in the attempt to make other businessmen feel sorry for his current project in the hope his £2million asking price would be met. The more well known media appearance was on ‘talksport’. Stephen Dawson, Footballer of Bury, joined Dale for the show. Steve Dale argued with Dawson that he was getting paid albeit ‘50% from the PFA’. This showed that Steve Dale wasn’t using his personal wealth for the club which disproved his quote in that he was in fact ‘placing my own money into the club’. Stephen Dawson admitted that he was facing the prospect of losing his home, this further emphasised how disastrous the state of the football club was in. 

Steve Dale was now an unwanted man, effectively an illness to the club and its very near future.

Steve Dale made no further progress in gaining the £2million he wanted to sell the club. This meant the EFL had no further choice but to unfortunately expell the football club from the football league. Which was majorly due to the supporters discontent as Bolton had been given a 14 day extension to find their next owners.

Footballers such as Neil Danns, Bury Captain, hit out at Steve Dale as news broke out. Danns claimed Steve Dale ‘literally destroyed lives’ as he understood the enormity of Bury FC to the whole community. Former Bury footballer, Nicky Adams also hit out at Steve Dale labelling him as a ‘rat scumbag who isn’t a real man’. Due to Dale’s inability of selling the club to owners where money would’ve been more wisely placed.

This whole case for Bury Football Club shows how little the EFL does for football clubs such as Bury as checks should’ve been took to ensure the football club and community was safe and had the correct money and ideas to stabilise and return to its proud status. I as well as many other football supporters should wish Bury FC well in the following events and that the football league status returns to the town in greater Manchester.

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  1. Thanks for this post as I hadn’t heard these details on the local news reports. It looks as if the EFL are making an example of Bury to scare other football clubs who have precarious finances. Have seen television interviews from individuals who stated that viable financial offers had been delivered to the EFL before the deadline – why has the EFL ignored these offers? Let’s hope Bury are able to mount a legal challenge to overcome their expulsion!

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