Bury’s bid to be re-admitted to the EFL as a League Two club under new ownership next season has been rejected by its members, the governing body has announced.
The Shakers were expelled from League One at the end of August following the postponement of their first five fixtures after they were unable to provide proof that they had the finances in place to see out the campaign with a proposed takeover having fallen through.
Ever since, the Bury FC Rescue Board, chaired by Bury North MP James Frith, has been working to bring an end to current owner Steve Dale’s reign and re-establish the club, and they had issued a plea ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the remaining 71 EFL clubs to consider their return.
However, their hopes have been dashed after members instead opted to press ahead with a plan to relegate just three clubs from League One and only one from the fourth tier at the end of the current season.
An EFL statement said: “During today’s meeting, the EFL and its member clubs considered and debated a number of options, with all clubs given the opportunity to air their views.
“The debate included consideration of the proposal submitted by the Bury FC Rescue Board for the club to be admitted to League Two under new ownership in season 2020/21.
“Following in-depth discussions, it became clear that the proposal did not have the necessary support and that EFL clubs favoured extending the existing principle of a reduction in relegation across all divisions as a means of returning to 72 clubs now and for the future.”
The EFL’s executive chair Debbie Jevans revealed the decision has been taken to ensure fairness for all members of the football pyramid.
She said: “While we are saddened that Bury FC is no longer part of the EFL, the Board’s difficult decision to withdraw membership was only taken after every opportunity to find a resolution was exhausted.
“Since then, in recognition of the efforts made on behalf of the club, the EFL has engaged with supporters’ groups, shared their submissions with our members and debated at length the issues raised.
“Following the discussion today, clubs have established that the preferred direction of travel is to reduce relegation from League Two as a means of returning to 72 clubs. The clubs felt that, in a difficult situation, this approach maintains fairness for all members and upholds the principle of the football pyramid.”
Meanwhile, the club’s have given their backing to a proposal to appoint former Liverpool and Premier League chief executive Rick Parry as the EFL’s new chairman.
The statement said: “The appointment will now go forward for formal ratification at a general meeting.”
Reacting, Frith said on Twitter that “self-interest was served cold” by the EFL clubs and that he would not be “walking away” from a rescue bid.
Mayor of Great Manchester, Andy Burnham, added at his monthly Question Time event: “It is a really sad day – 125 years in the Football League, an FA Cup winner. This club deserved more respect from the football family.
“It is now time to take the fight for the football club up another level. You cannot let this rest here. To send Bury FC down to the Northern Counties Football League, to let it plummet through the divisions, is essentially putting the future of the club on the line.
“Although Bury FC have not been readmitted to League Two, it does still mean the authorities are a club short in the Conference for next season. That is where we take our call now.”