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Bury fans eye takeover and return to Gigg Lane ahead of National League bid

Bury fans eye a takeover and are also planning for a return to Gigg Lane ahead of their bid to get them back at National League North level.

Supporters group, Forever Bury, are targetting to keep the Shakers alive, something they had to do when the club went into administration back in 2002.

They have been given the opportunity to buy the club and save them from the brink, with current owner Steve Dale preferring to let Forever Bury takeover.

However, the amount needed is quite the mountain to climb for the supporters and volunteers from the group – a hefty £2.5m.

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In a statement, Forever Bury said: “I’m sure we can all admit it has been a harrowing 18 months for everyone connected with Bury Football Club.

“But finally after an endless amount of meetings, phone calls and negotiations, Forever Bury have been given the opportunity to purchase the club and return it to its former glory as a fan owned club which we all have been dreaming about.

“Since May 2019 our loyal supporters have been left wondering if they will ever see the famous colours of the two-time FA Cup winners step out onto the hallowed turf of Gigg Lane. Again, after some sterling work by many volunteers and industry professionals, we are now close to fulfilling the dreams of our fans.”

However, the group said that they cannot do it alone and they “desperately” need the help from everyone within the football community to achieve that goal.

They added: “It is imperative now we focus all our attentions to this and give it one almighty push. To us this is the greatest football club in the land but we are just another clubs supporters as there are so many out there thinking the same. We are all in it together.”

They are also asking fans to spread the fund building link and help meet the various deadlines that have been set with a number of parties.

The group says the aim is to provide an update at least once a week, as well as welcoming questions or feedback.

Forever Bury put forward the suggestion that they would like fans to boycott the pay-per-view Premier League fixtures and put the £15 charge to watch game towards saving Bury FC instead.

A Forever Bury spokesman added: “The harsh reality of modern football is if just 200,000 football fans didn’t subscribe to Sky’s first PPV TV game and donated to this cause, then it would be enough for the two time F.A Cup winners to start playing football again.”

The crowd-funding page can be found at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-shakers

So far, just over £3,000 has been raised of the £2.5m target to save the club.

Many people have been left confused on the situation regarding Bury FC, with some thinking that they no longer exist and have been replaced with fans-led Bury AFC who play in the North West Counties League – the ninth tier of English football – so that they can have a team to support with no worries and can only look to an exciting future.

However, unlike Macclesfield FC, the Shakers haven’t been wound up and since being expelled, they significantly brokered down their debts, still own Gigg Lane and have their supporters club, Forever Bury, behind a serious move to save them.

FA sources have said that they will welcome an application from the two-time FA Cup winners by their March deadline for clubs to be placed into a league – they just need to sort out a new owner.

Steve Dale has told the media over the weekend that he will finally step aside with his preferred purchaser the Forever Bury group.

He said: “That’s my intention. I want them to have the club.”

Bury’s 12,000 seater stadium is in still good condition, and is still able to host games with only minor work needed which will not cost significant amounts.

The pitch is still in great condition thanks to groundsman Mike Curtis maintaining it since last year.

Discussions have taken place to allow a Bury ladies’ team to play at Gigg Lane, to stage fan and youth matches, local league cup finals and also potentially arrange a few friendlies against nearby Premier League clubs to help raise funds when it is possible to do so.

If they can reach their goal of raising £2.5million, Forever Bury say it will be enough to take control of both the club and stadium.

Their preferred choice is to get control of Bury FC and have a fans-led club where supporters can purchase bonds and shares, with investment too from businessmen.

However if the club are eventually wound up, the second choice would be to purchase the name and assets from the administrator, in the same way Robert Smethurst has with Macclesfield and relaunch the Silkmen next season.

The third was to set up a phoenix club, however Bury AFC has already been formed and there is now a split fan-base, which Giffard believes has complicated efforts to take control of the original Bury FC – but he hopes all Shakers fans can unite to work towards getting football back to Gigg Lane, something all the fanbase wants.

Forever Bury chairman and lifelong supporter David Giffard said: “Bury FC is still there and worth saving. It’s the club my great grandfather took my grandfather to their very first game at Gigg Lane in 1885.

“My grandfather took my dad there for the first match after the First World War.

“He then took me for the first time in 1958 and I took my daughter Kate to her first game in 1983 when she was three.

“She now has a daughter and I’m determined to take her too. There are so many stories like that across our fan base because Bury is an incredible family club.”

Steve Dale says he has paid significant amounts of his own money in keeping the club from folding, adding that once he has brokered a deal to clear debts from Gigg Lane that started at £8million alone, the social club and car park, he will sell the club.

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