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Report claims ‘Bury FC apply to play in non league next season and plot to make EFL return’

A new report claims ‘Bury FC apply to play in non league next season and plot to make EFL return’, but fans are sceptical about it.

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 by 2031, but are likely to be placed into the North West Counties League.

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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.

The Shakers were kicked out of League One after Steve Dale, the previous owner, failed to produce proof of funds, with a takeover bid falling through and ended their 125-year EFL membership.

The Bury Football Club Supporters Society purchased the name, intellectual property and history of Bury FC in October 2021 from their administrators, while Gigg Lane, which has previously been damaged and decayed in places, getting some work done on it from fans and volunteers in recent years. 

SunSport say they’ve seen an 230-page application from the club. It details 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.

The club have already rented out space in the stadium and plans are in place for more office space.

The ground was opened back to the public for community use, hosted a fireworks event, while around 40,000 people have used the facility, including football players, community members, community hub users, and spectators who are interested in watching legends, women’s football and local league cup finals.

In the summer, the ground hosted soccer camps for children, and now plans are in place to install a new pitch in March/April, before hosting local cup finals.

Although the club are applying under the name Bury Community United Football Club, they hope the Football Association will approve their bid to call themselves Bury FC.

SunSport go on to say that Bury Football Club Supporters Society was awarded a £1million government grant through its levelling-up fund. This grant will be used to buy Gigg Lane and build the stadium for community use.

They have so far turned over £133,000, with £50,000 in the bank, despite not having any first-team fixtures – with a German model to be used for the community club.

It will be 51 percent fan-owned and 49 percent investors, to protect it from being overtaken by rogue investors.

BFCSS Statement

Bury Football Club Supporters Society (formed in 2002) can update our members on progress since October.

In November we announced that following meetings between the working groups we would be seeking a second vote between the current two Bury Supporters Groups.

Despite our best efforts, talks with SCS have been very protracted. As previously stated we had been asked to consider allowing an application to be submitted for Bury AFC to change their name to Bury FC and a lease for Gigg Lane for next season. After meetings between Bury FCSS, Bury FC Benefactors and Bury Football Club Limited it was agreed that this should only happen following a successful second vote and as part of a merger process.

We have also suggested a meeting to try to facilitate assisting them by using Gigg Lane to complete their current season. As Bury AFC have many cancelled and rearranged fixtures we hoped this could help alleviate the pressures of finding alternative venues as seen in their recent FA Vase game at Darwen.

We, the working groups and the BFC Benefactors all agreed a merger was the best opportunity to unite a broken fanbase, and we remain fully committed to this, but as deadlines move closer and with no real timeline in place to complete a vote we have to look at what we need to do to comply with the Grant Fund Agreement (GFA). The GFA states there needs to be a Bury team playing at Gigg Lane however it does not state one sole team playing in Bury. As part of the GFA, BFCSS together with the working groups sought an agreement with SCS to bring senior men’s football back to Gigg Lane. This was agreed by all parties and put to the members in the first vote to merge both societies which would achieve the milestone of the GFA. BFCSS are happy to honour that agreement again by holding a second vote to enable bringing back senior men’s football, should SCS wish to do so. This agreement mentioned in the GFA has no deadline attached, therefore talks could continue to try to seek an agreement, whether that be a lease for 2024/25 or a future member vote on a merger. The lease agreement would allow local Bury businesses, restaurants, bars, and local pubs to benefit from weekly football being played at Gigg Lane.

We are hopeful the SCS and BFCSS can still get round the table and try to unite as one but due to their ongoing commitments, our own events, timelines and progressions within the stadium to maintain our General Safety Certificate, we have to assume this is going to be hard to achieve in the near future.

To ensure elite men’s football at Gigg Lane in the 2023/24 season we have today 26th January 2023 submitted an application for the National League System. Following meetings with the chairman of the relevant leagues last year, we sought additional advice and guidance from other long-standing clubs throughout the National League System on the appropriate evidence required. We do not anticipate formal response back from the leagues until promotion, relegation and league amendments have completed. We can assure our members that the application is a very complex process and an in-depth application has been completed along with support from individuals and other non-league clubs who have assisted with our budget plans.

If a successful second merger vote of members can happen in the next two months and the new interim board be formed to pave the way for elections onto the new CBS3, then this league application can be withdrawn at any time before the 31st March 2023, if necessary. BFCSS have taken advice and it is a legal requirement for both societies to hold the new vote at the same time. BFCSS stated December 2022 that we wished to run the new vote under the same agreed terms at the earliest opportunity, we have had no agreement from SCS for a date to do this.

We would like to make it clear to our members that we will continue to update with information that is factual and will not respond to social media hearsay. We would also like to encourage our members and the wider fan base to engage in what is happening at Gigg Lane!

Bury Football Club Supporters Society Board


The Shakers Community board would like to provide some clarification on a few of the points raised, as we believe they are misleading and suggest they are amended.

1. Playing at Gigg Lane this season has never once been mentioned. This statement is simply not true. We were told last year that we could not play at Gigg Lane under the name Bury AFC, and this has not been retracted despite our requests to do so.

2. We had a meeting booked in for Wednesday this week with all parties involved, including local and central government. It was cancelled at short notice as the senior government figure scheduled to attend could no longer make the meeting, but has been rescheduled for late next week. We have already confirmed attendance.

3. We have been told we will receive the information requested under ‘Further Information and Next Steps‘ ahead of a meeting, but none has been received to date. We have made clear that we are available to respond to any questions or discuss any suggestions. We have had none.

4. It is unlikely that there will be any significant delay in receiving confirmation of the outcome for an application to the National League System, if the application is rejected. If the league wishes to sponsor an applicant it would need to submit it for approval to the FA by 1st February at the latest. If it doesn’t, they will know by next week, ahead of our meeting.

5. The Grant Funding Agreement does not specify there must only be one team, but that point has been clarified by the relevant government department. We are specifically named in the agreement. No business plan has been issued evidencing that two rival teams competing for the same supporters will work and we assume it doesn’t exist.

It is extremely poor form to brief The Sun ahead of their members. We have constantly questioned whether there is any serious intent to work with us, as the evidence so far has suggested Bury FC SS simply wish to launch their own team. This latest statement has proven that point. They did the same last year with a failed application to the Northern Premier League.

We remain firmly committed to the path outlined here.

We will await the outcome of their league application next week.

This is what fans said as a report claims ‘Bury FC apply to play in non league next season and plot to make EFL return’…

@shakerdaz: He’s been fed a load of 💩 off bfcss/bury community united fc and published in the sun so it must be true 😜

@bl74149: It’s coming home!

@nickmetcalfeuk: The question remains, with this application and ‘impressive’ business plan, why are @buryfcss wasting time and energy on pursuing a merger with Bury AFC? There’s still stuff they are obviously not being totally honest about.

@LutonTownExile: Superb news this is.

@HungryHatter: It’s a shame the two Burys haven’t been able to get together yet, but maybe that will come. I’d love to see what has to go into a 230-page application just to come in at Step 6, it’s all a bit reminiscent of the days of Football League re-elections.

@curtisbutler2: 🤞🏻 it happens

@Denzil101010: Emphasis on the word “could”. I’ll believe it when I see it…. all my optimism has disappeared now…. I still have my fingers crossed though 🤞🤞🤞

@PJWalsh1982: Fantastics news for Bury FC, its supporters and all the community.

@MartCJones: In the 230 page application does it mention which league will be formally sponsoring their application to the FA? Are the NWCL supporting their bid? Suppose we’ll find out next week

@gazza_thered: Great news Justin up the shakers 😀

@Yatesy72: Bolton fan who has lived in Bury for 30 years. Our town couldn’t keep one club in the EFL going financially, how anyone thinks that they do it with two non-league teams is a mystery. FC and AFC get together and get football under one club back at Gigg.

@tom2691: Still can’t believe they didn’t join with AFC Bury. Going be a divided town following two teams

@WalshawSportsFC: 2 clubs in one small town just isn’t financially viable surely !

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