Radcliffe FC cancel kids’ matches as Bury FC fans stage a planned protest against club merger proposals with the situation turning sour.
Juniors matches for Saturday have been cancelled, due to a protest organised by Bury FC fans with club chairman Paul Hilton confirming all games scheduled for the day have been called off.
The decision comes due to news of to a protest by some Bury FC fans who plan to march to Redbank Playing Fields in demonstration against a potential merger of Bury AFC and Bury FC.
Redbank Playing Fields is the home of Radcliffe Juniors FC and close to Neuven Stadium, also known as Stainton Park, which is shared by both Radcliffe FC and Bury AFC. The latter play at home in the FA Cup qualifying rounds against North Shields around midday with the game streamed on the BBC.
— Vote No Merger – Bury FC (@Vote_No_Merger) September 2, 2022
The group, named Vote No Merger, will march from the Bridge Tavern to Redbank Playing Fields on Saturday from 11am.
On a statement on the club’s website, the chairman said he was “appalled” at Vote No Merger’s decision to protest at the field.
He said: “Since the devastating news to local football in 2019, Radcliffe FC have been nothing but a friend and supportive neighbour to our fellow townsfolk in Bury.
“I cannot even imagine what it could be like to have your Club, team, its history and so many memories ripped from you in such terrible circumstances.
“We provided the space for the fans of Bury FC to gather for their legends match and we facilitated a commercial arrangement for Bury AFC to use our Neuven Stadium for home matches.
“All this is in the name of football friendship and local solidarity.
“Radcliffe FC are proud to have our own identity and the drive and determination to plot our own path in football – that is who we are and we have no desire to interfere nor be involved in any conflict amongst our fellow football fans.
“The future of football in Bury is where it should be, in the hands of its supporters and I applaud the people involved in working hard to return football and Gigg Lane to the town of Bury – I know only too well how much hard work it is!
“Neither I nor Radcliffe FC have any part to play in the decisions ahead and we certainly have no desire to be drawn into any conflict or discussion on the subject but unfortunately the concerning information I have received forces me to do so.
“I support the right to protest, it is a cornerstone of our democracy and basic right for the people of this country and I have no issue with the people standing up for what they think is right, however when those actions become a threat to the safety and distress of our children I am compelled to speak out and act.
“I am appalled at the decision to choose to march on Redbank Playing Fields – the home of Radcliffe Juniors, worse so on a Saturday morning when any football fan will know that children will be enjoying their sport in a safe a friendly environment and I am equally disappointed that no members of Bury football groups have taken any serious consideration into the effect this could have on our local children – Radcliffe FC’s local children – who are absolutely innocent of anything connected to whatever quarrels Bury FCs fans may have.
“These actions, decisions and non-communication show a complete lack of respect and understanding of local football and a total disregard for the safeguarding of young Radcliffe Juniors players and their families by all parties in the Bury football scene.
“We therefore have no alternative but to cancel all games on Redbank Playing Fields on Saturday morning.
“Be in no doubt that this deprives over 280 local children and their families from enjoying sport this weekend.
“Radcliffe FC and Radcliffe Juniors have taken no sides in this debate and we will not, but if this is the future of the football environment in Bury then we are glad to be Radcliffe.”
Bury FC Supporters Society (BFCSS) and Bury AFC’s Shaker’s Community Society Ltd revealed proposals to merge in May in an effort to bring elite men’s football back to the town.
The council has pledged £450,000 of funding to Bury Football Club if members vote in favour of the proposed merger, and as many know, Bury FC supporters have made extensive efforts to restore the club’s ground, Gigg Lane, after it was bought back from administration in 2022.
Vote No Merger has around 200 fans joining its Facebook group since being launched in August and admin David Clarke, 26, and Gigg Lane volunteer says fans are concerned that no date has been set for the vote.
He said: “I just feel that for months now, we’ve just had no voice, it’s just been continuously kicking the can down the road with the vote.
“They’re saying it will be a merger but in the plans it will be the club of AFC, the company name and company number moving over here.
“We believe that’s not in out interest because people like me who’ve spend three years hoping and fighting for this club to come back, I want my club back and not theirs.
“We believe we can get our voices heard [on Saturday] Its going to be a peaceful protest, we don’t want to cause any fracas.”
Other group members supporting a ‘no vote’ say the two clubs should remain separate to give fans a choice: “I have no ill feeling towards people who follow AFC, that’s their choice but I can’t support them moving their club over to Gigg Lane.
“Too much has gone on for us all to be united and one big happy family.
Another commenter on social media said: “I have supported Bury FC for 58 years. I have no affinity to the club that was formed over two years ago.”
In response to the protest, a BFCSS spokesperson said, as per Bury Times: “We are aware of an upcoming protest regarding the proposed amalgamation of the two CBS boards.
“We can confirm that we are not associated in anyway with the protest.
“We would like to remind supporters that their behaviour can reflect on individuals, businesses and communities.
“All our members are vital in shaping the future of football in Bury and at Gigg Lane, and we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that to be included in the upcoming vote on the proposal – they need to be active members.
“We remain committed in supporting our members throughout and beyond this process, whatever the outcome.”
I’m all for peaceful protest & have no issue with people expressing an opinion but a march in Radcliffe (when they are often at pains to say that’s not Bury) on the day of AFC’s FA Cup match is petulant at best and at worst? I’m sure people will work that out for themselves. https://t.co/IBwdrnTfaT
— Andrea (@dontmswithme) August 27, 2022
No I’ll be here. First Bury FA cup game live on the BBC for what must be 50 years. If I was you I’d join me. pic.twitter.com/qgvL4v08Tg
— Dave (@djshaker78) September 2, 2022
Supporters gave their thoughts with Radcliffe FC having to cancel kids’ matches as Bury FC fans stage a protest against club merger proposals…
@BroughtonM7: Your an embarrassment to the Bury FC name, why would anyone reach out to you ?? The ego’s of some folk is mind blowing 🤯
@Groundbopping: Don’t use the badge of Bury FC for this shower of shit statement. Absolutely no affiliation.
@djshaker78: Steve Dale is alive and well and still putting out statements I see. All makes sense now.
@ManchesterBury: “infactual statement” – You choose to protest on the pitches where kids are playing football, and those games have to be cancelled. What do you expect the chairman of Radcliffe to say? Ludicrous.
@dontmswithme: At which point when you realise you’ve spoilt the start of the season for 280 kids do you think ‘oh great now there is no problem for us’ as opposed to swiftly rearranging? Arranging it to clash with the AFC game was never a good luck. This is a catastrophe.
@shakerboy1885: TV cameras 🤣 It’s not Sky sports. There will be 1 cameraman and a commentator up some scaffolding inside the ground. AFC have a bigger team when they steam live. Utter muppets . Field will be empty as you scared all the kids off
@jonny_bass: They clearly have a voice, to vote how they choose, it’s been stated that this process could take months to complete. This is purely a very sad effort to disrupt the game on Saturday, instead of being sour why don’t they come in and enjoy the atmosphere. 🤷♂️
@earsby: There’s a vote coming up, which is heavily weighted in favour of the “no” side, as “no” only needs to receive 33% of the vote. IMO, this isn’t about AFC taking over, it’s about coming together for the good of the future of football in Bury. I will be voting “yes”.
@dontmswithme: People have a right to express their opinion agains merger, however, the timing & venue of this march to coincide with AFC’s Cup game detracts from legitimate voices & suggests they are more concerned with disrupting AFC than putting forward views about the future of Bury FC. I see merger as the most positive way to blend the great progress Bury fans have made in acquiring Gigg Lane & building a functioning football club. AFC fans are Bury FC fans, many decades long & previous generations supporting, animosity towards fellow fans is often baffling
@shakerite66: You’ve had no voice? I’ve heard nothing but for over two years .
@KathleenHamer2: It’s not a merger of 2 football clubs as Bury FC is no longer 😩😭 It’s a Football ground with no team and a Football team with no ground coming together in Bury
@FootballLawDS: Also, every single Bury AFC fan is a die hard Bury FC fan….you don’t go and watch tier 9 football otherwise 😂
@DJChizzles: “We’ve had no voice” say the loudest tiny pathetic group of people I’ve ever seen on the internet 🤣
@TheJasonHearne: What exactly are they protesting? They have a vote so use it. Nothing to see here but grown men acting like babies. If they wanted to stage a meaningful protest do it at Gigg Lane where people might be interested.
@mozzerjnr: As if we wasn’t embarrassing ourselves enough… @Vote_No_Merger well done you absolute cock ends! Excelled yourself massively here in bringing disgrace to the Bury Fc name! 280 kids missing out because of your moronic protest 🤦🏻
@GoatNmcl: Absolutely disgraceful!!! Just when I thought the Bury fans couldn’t get any weirder….they go and protest in Radcliffe and spoil children’s sport in the process!