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Bury FC SS see league application for next season rejected while Bitton apply after resignation

Bury FC SS see their league application for next season rejected while Bitton AFC apply to return after resignation earlier in 2022/23.

Respected football finance guru Kieran Maguire tweeted on Tuesday: “I believe that the Bury FC Supporters Society application to join the North West Counties league next season has been rejected due to issues of governance and a lack of a credible business plan.”

Bury FC SS were contacted by fans and journalists wanting a statement on their behalf to clarify the current situation.

This news coming just weeks after writer Justin Allen, claims plans Bury have submitted a formal application to play in non league as soon as this summer, issuing a business plan for the Football Association.

A goal has also been set of returning to English Football League (EFL) by 2031, but had been likely to be placed into the North West Counties League – something that now looks unlikely to be happening.

SunSport were informed by club sources that they have successful non-league managers applying to build a squad to play a friendly at Gigg Lane against either an EFL or Premier League club.

SunSport added they saw an 230-page application from the club, detailing how the club plans to move to go into the North West Counties League, and want to get back to the EFL, which they will need at least five promotions to do so.

Although the club applied under the name Bury Community United Football Club, they hope the Football Association will approve their bid to call themselves Bury FC. See more on this by clicking HERE.


North West Counties League application

Last week, Bury FC Supporters’ Society (BFCSS) had a meeting with the North West Counties League (NWCFL) Board to discuss our application to join their league for the upcoming 2023/24 season. During that meeting the NWCFL board asked questions about the club structure and specifically as to why there are several companies involved within the setup. They also requested our proposed business plan and an update on amalgamation talks with Shakers Community Benefit Society (SCBS). As outlined from the outset, the idea would be for the stadium operations to remain a separate entity from the football club – with or without an amalgamation. This is because a Company Limited by Guarantee was created to enable BFCSS and the Bury FC Benefactors to acquire the stadium as part of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (DLUHC).

As expected, we received an email from the NWCFL Chairman saying that they would not support our application. It is with regret that this was leaked to the press before we were in a position to meet as a board and then fully inform our members. The email gave very brief reasons why it had been rejected. One of these was that we did not qualify under ‘exceptional circumstances’. We have since requested additional supporting evidence to find out why the application did not reach the threshold required for this.

The application was also rejected over NWCGL’s concerns over the business case for the proposed installation of a 3G pitch due to the complexity of installation dates and costs. At the meeting mentioned above it was explained that a benefactor would be sought who wished to aid with the purchase of this, or alternatively we could work with the Football Foundation with timelines outside of a football season. There is of course an alternative plan without the 3G pitch, but details of this were not requested. We discussed how successful the society have been in the last 12 months since acquiring the stadium and it was concluded that the business plan would also move and change due to more events, activities, office rentals, and film shoots to continue to keep it sustainable. The plan is continually updated
and has been reviewed by finance controllers and management teams from other clubs who are well respected within their leagues and roles.

Following talks with the NWCFL Chairman, BFCSS, a major benefactor and the FSA back in October, it was understood that the application would be rejected and we would then seek FA input as to which league we could start in. The NWCFL board stated they were not happy that we submitted the application on 27th January 2023 despite this being ahead of the 1st February 2023 deadline. We explained that the reason for the late application was because of ongoing discussions regarding a second vote on the potential amalgamation.

Due to the large number of supporters we would expect to watch matches at Gigg Lane, along with our large membership, it is quite possible that we could also be rejected from the feeder leagues. This is because the requirements for stadiums and numbers of supporters within these lower leagues would naturally have safety concerns for fans at home and away games. If this too is rejected then the application would be referred back to the FA for them to make a decision on a potential league placement.

The next steps are therefore to apply for the West Lancashire League, which the Lancashire FA would support us on. We would then submit an appeal to the NWCFL and the FA, whilst continuing to utilise Gigg Lane as the superb community asset it has been for the town of Bury.

Once the current 2022/23 season is completed there may be places made available due to some teams moving divisions and the possibility of some closing, but there is of course no guarantee of this.

It is of paramount importance to the board of BFCSS and Benefactors that men’s football is played at Gigg Lane next season. Gigg Lane has passed the criteria of the NWCFL Committee and is now ready to host football. We are still in negotiations for a second vote on an amalgamation with SCBS and are doing our best to ensure the fans can have their say in time for next season.

Bury Football Club Supporters Society Board


Meanwhile, Bitton AFC have applied to join the sixth step of the non league system for next season with the side say they’re in a position to do so following a restructure of the club.

The 2019-20 FA Vase semi finalists resigned from the Western League Premier Division earlier this season, citing travelling costs as the main reason for the decision.

The club wrote on social media on Tuesday evening: “Following restructuring at the Club, Bitton have applied to the NLS to enter at step 6 for the 23/24 season and await the outcome in due course.”

In October 2022, they wrote in a statement: “It is with deep regret that Bitton 1st Team have been withdrawn from the Toolstation Premier Division by the Club.

“The decision has been taken with a heavy heart but in the interest of the whole club and its future sustainability which is imperative.

“The club would like to thank the supporters, sponsors and management for their contributions this season and importantly the players that had committed to the long arduous journeys to date and to complete the season which has proved to be financially one step to far for the club.

“The club would like to put on record the positive attitudes and commitments that have been enviable, and you are all wished every success going forward.

“The club will now reflect and decide on its options going forward.”

This is what Twitter users said as Bury FC SS see their league application for next season rejected while Bitton apply after announcing league resignation a few months ago…


@danfreer: Thank you for keeping us up to date. It’s more than can be said for some organisations levels of communication on the matter.

@BradleyS__: 🤐🤐🤐. Can’t be a shock to anyone really. To be honest, I’m wondering if BFCSS members will act accordingly and have a vote of no confidence in their board. Can they be happy? Surely not. Even if it’s a policy change, change is needed somewhere.

@mellonista2022: isn’t this a good thing for football in Bury if it means FC have to go back to the drawing board and talk to AFC again (over merging)

@MichaelHighlan4: I’m not sure many people on AFCs side want a merger anymore.

@Stavasaurus: Shame they couldn’t do this much diligence with the guy that sunk them. Hope they get sorted

@AllsportJoe: What do you mean? Surely letting off fireworks on the pitch and chanting “fuck the AFC” is credible enough?

@BradleyS__: A reminder that 63% of BFCSS members wanted a merge with #BuryAFC. Their board are acting for the minority and then letting 3rd parties communicate what they should be communicating to their own members. This won’t be the end to their efforts and won’t be end to their failures.

@ShakersBen: It’s all a sad and sorry state. Luckily myself and others have opted for the AFC journey until a time when a merger is a realistic option. One day we will all realise we are all Bury fans, and shouldn’t oppose each other. #UTS 🔵⚪💙

@Denzil101010: So that’s that then @buryfcss. Guess they’ll be pushing for a merger again now. AFC applying to put a Res team in yesterday seems good timing too now 🙄🤔

@Burychadchad: Pub league.. they’ll be some happy people tonight lucky they’ve escaped the torture of this journey 😬⚪️🔵

@dontmswithme: Another possible twist in the ongoing saga? It would be good to get clarity from BFCSS.

@GoddenSA2: Jeez, the North West Counties league seems to have stricter oversight than the Championship…

@ThinkEngagement: Why on earth are they not putting their lot in with their fellow Bury fans? I mean, I know why, but drop your pride. It’s never too late.


@somersethammer4: Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys 🤞

@JamesHa19293771: Would be good to see you guys back 👍🏻. Good luck with the application.

@josephmeacham4: if they don’t restructure the step 5 next year. i can see a fair few teams wanting voluntary relegation next season. going to be a 30 team league 💪💪💪

@GarryBayliss: Good luck Bitton

@Jamessk34321606: Great news ⚽️⚽️⚽️

@BowkerStu: How can they be allowed to just swan back in at step 6? Should be made to start at the bottom

@Chorley_Mon: Remains to be seen whether they’ve bitton off more than they can chew. #buddumtish

@Ghandya: Gloucester county lg I think

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