In this article, we take a look at the state of play regarding Bury FC, Bury AFC and Gigg Lane as questions continue to be asked for 2022/23.
Bury AFC, a fan-owned English association football club representing the town of Bury, established in December 2019 after Bury FC had been expelled from the English Football League (EFL).
Bury AFC have just been crowned champions of the North West Counties Football League Division One North at the first time of asking in front of a packed crowd of nearly 2,000 at Neuven Stadium, ground-sharing with Radcliffe FC, beating St Helens Town 4-0.
WE. ARE. CHAMPIONS.
— Bury AFC (@OfficialBuryAFC) March 27, 2022
They have been beaten only once in 35 league matches and were expected to dominate their opponents which had conceded nearly 140 league goals so far this season, but they held firm for 33 minutes before conceding two goals before half time and another two in the second.
Jonathan Hunt broke the deadlock with a powerful header and on the stroke of half time, Benjamin Wharton nodded home Bury AFC’s second from a free kick.
Harry Brazel (85 mins) and Tom Greaves (90+1 mins) sealed the victory and started the celebratory scenes from the home fans.
See the game in full for yourself below…
What now? Well from our understanding, unless plans change or talks are had, Bury AFC play in the North West Counties League Premier Division (9th tier) next season.
However there is the possibility that they could end up playing their games at Gigg Lane for the 2022/23 season, with the ground undergoing a mass clean-up in the hope of having a Bury football team of sort play there.
On the 21st of February 2022, it was confirmed that the owner of Gigg Lane – and of the Bury FC trading name – is the newly formed Gigg Lane Stadium Limited, a company limited by guarantee whose members are the Gigg Lane Propco Limited and Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society Limited, a registered society.
This means that, when a Bury FC team plays at Gigg Lane in future, it will represent Gigg Lane Stadium Limited.
Meanwhile, the old club incorporated in 1885 – The Bury Football Club Company Ltd – remains in administration under the ownership of Steve Dale.
Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society applauded Bury AFC on winning the NWCFL Division One North and achieving promotion.
Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society would like to congratulate @OfficialBuryAFC on winning @nwcfl Div 1 North and achieving promotion today.#BuryAFC #BuryFCSS #Congratulations pic.twitter.com/IumNGCiuHh
— Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society (@buryfcss) March 27, 2022
And this is what is means to manager @andy_welsh11. ⚪️🔵
Great to be on the pitch for #BuryAFC’s full-time live stream and capture some superb scenes. 🎉
🙏🏾 Cam-op @W1LK1N5! 🎥
Full video link ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/251MQIFzvT
— Sanny Rudravajhala (@SannyR1985) March 27, 2022
Bury FC Supporters’ Society issued a statement on the 15th of March, answering questions about what the future holds for both clubs.
Firstly, we would like to thank all the supporters who turned up to Gigg Lane the last two weekends to help the clean-up of our wonderful stadium and also provide essential cleaning materials, hardware and refreshments. Bringing supporters together again after such a long and difficult void was truly heart-warming and it was great to see familiar faces being able to not only contribute to our now fan–owned community asset, but to see them sat in their seats again with friends and family and the sun shining down upon us.
New Beginnings for Bury FC
As promised, we are trying to be more transparent and provide information in a steady stream as soon as we have something definitive to share. In this statement you will see that we have three key challenges to overcome which we understand will be emotive to many of you. There will always be positive progress and setbacks on this journey. In April of 2021 when we first set out on our quest to save Gigg Lane, Bury FC and all our history along with Intellectual Property, we truly believed that this would be the greatest challenge. There were many obstacles on the path to where we are today and we overcame them. We will continue to face every future challenge head on. Please have faith that we are doing everything to make the restoration of Bury FC at Gigg as soon as possible a reality.
Once we completed the purchase of Gigg Lane the first question supporters asked was which league/division will we be playing in? Unfortunately, our application to join the Northern Premier League has been rejected, for several reasons, including that the league is full to capacity and they do not want to deny a lower team promotion. We continue to explore options to appeal the process or seek avenues into other leagues. Many new and reformed teams have been admitted to a league much closer to the start of the season, so we have by no means exhausted all possibilities. Of course, a combination with AFC does provide an option, which the FA and Bury Council prefer, but AFC would need to want this also. We are fully aware this will need to be handled sensitively to ensure a majority of all supporters are happy with the outcome. There are many supporters who have followed Bury AFC who are emotionally invested in the team and enjoying the success. We also have a significant number of supporters who did not choose this path and their feelings have to be seriously considered to avoid division and alienation. This is not about leadership personalities. It is and must always be about what is best for all supporters.
Future use of the Bury FC name
Buying the stadium, Intellectual Property and Memorabilia out of administration meant that football creditors to the old regime have not been paid. Whilst some may feel this is unfair, it is not a legal requirement to settle outstanding liabilities when buying just these items out of administration. This means there are currently FA restrictions on when we can use the Bury FC name. We are seeing if there can be a negotiated resolution on this or whether we will have to play under a new name until the day the team can once again compete as Bury FC.
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Negotiations with Bury AFC
On 19th January 2022, Peter Alexander presented our proposal for a possible combination of our efforts with representatives of Bury AFC’s management team, suggesting a member vote on it. Our proposal was based around the German model of 51:49 majority fan ownership of the Ground and the Football Club ensuring the supporters always have the ultimate say on any decisions and the majority ownership always rests directly with the supporters. This structure also retains the benefactor’s involvement to help with stewardship and attract further financial contributions in what is a lifetime commitment. All benefactors are lifelong Bury FC supporters who only want the best for the club and the town. We have not yet received a formal response but Bury AFC did request sight of certain private documents. We agreed to this, subject to them first signing a standard confidentiality agreement which we provided and is still outstanding, as it is from Bury Council, although the FSA and the Manchester City Council have signed it. We are not permitted to have confidential documents circulating publicly and so for matters to progress this agreement is essential.
A working group has been formed with Bury AFC, Bury Council, Manchester City Council, the Football Supporters Association and Central Government Community Funding Team to try and find a proposal that can be supported by a majority of members from both Societies. Hopefully this group will be able to drive towards a fan vote, but this needs to happen in a reasonable timeframe to still give us time to build a team for next season if it is declined.
We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. We are doing everything we can and ask for your help in the short term in the continued work on Gigg Lane and in helping drive membership to the Bury Football Club Supporters Society.
WHAT A FEELING 💙 pic.twitter.com/XOsrrudSQh
— Bury AFC (@OfficialBuryAFC) March 27, 2022
Here is the @nwcfl Division One North table following yesterday’s title-clinching game in front of a record crowd of 1885 at the Neuven.
— Bury AFC (@OfficialBuryAFC) March 28, 2022
Fans reacted to the promotion as we talk about the state of play regarding Bury FC, Bury AFC and Gigg Lane…
@AlistairBurtUK: Congratulations @OfficialBuryAFC. Fantastic achievement. All us exiles love to see a Bury team going up, I’m sure. Now to work at the coming together at Gigg, please.
@victorvinkola: Classy 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻 olive branch is only ever reached out from one side. Need to get a team playing at Gigg Lane if that means having 2 teams named Bury I know which one I’m going watching 👍🏻
@Gymbo20944400: Class from SS. Well done AFC. However, only watching Bury when it’s one team at Gigg. Let’s not forget the silent majority, A Bury team at Gigg winning a league would get well over 5k, Gets this over the line for heavans sake.
@Alsouthgloucs: I’m so proud of Bury today , as a Town, and I’m looking forward to revelling in our Glory a bit when I speak to my mates , who support a variety of teams but all send Good Luck messages to the Shakers 💙
@PaulHeathcote18: Pure class, now let’s get one team over the line 🤞
@davidjbamford: Come on come let’s stick together. You know we made a vow to leave one another never. Bury FC. Let’s stick together.
@gfollows48: Well done to Andy Welsh and his Management Team the players supporters who have been fantastic all season all the committee members and Chairman Ian Coyle. Well Done on being Champions fully deserved front us all at Daisy Hill Football Club. All the very best for next season
@nickmetcalfeuk: @nwcfl Premier Division football at Gigg Lane in 2022-23. Let’s make it happen @buryfcss @1885_est @OfficialBuryAFC
@Tony_Tremayne: NOT BAD FOR PUB TEAM PLAYING ON A FARMERS FIELD. Absolutely fantastic thoroughly deserved. Also a massive thank you to all the volunteers too many to name. See you at the players awards in April. Expect a drink 🤍💙👏👏👏
@chrisashworth72: Time to sort out going back to Gigg Lane for next season
@BradleyS__: (Don’t let any anti Bury (AFC) Twitter accounts bring you down, and don’t even engage with them. The club got promoted and we’ll never fully understand what they’re going on about so don’t rise to it. You know the 5 or 6 people I’m talking about. They’re weird.) #BuryAFC
— Bury AFC (@OfficialBuryAFC) March 28, 2022
— Dave (@lovetoboogie78) March 27, 2022