Bury are facing expulsion from the English Football League as a proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk has fallen through just 90 minutes before a league-set deadline for the deal to be completed.
Steve Dale, the League One club’s owner, was originally given until midnight on Friday to prove he could pay off Bury’s debts and fund the next two seasons or find someone who could.
Two hours before that deadline expired, Dale told reporters he had sold the club to C&N, a London-based sports analytics company set up by former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell’s son Rory Campbell and former Barnet caretaker manager Henry Newman, who met while scouting for West Ham.
This seemed to be the rescue Bury fans had been praying for and on Saturday morning the EFL extended its deadline until 5pm on Tuesday to give Dale and C&N more time to complete the deal.
C&N, however, was disappointed not to be given more time and has now issued a statement to say it simply cannot proceed – a decision that leaves the 134-year-old club needing a miracle.
In a statement, C&N said: “We are grateful to the EFL for the short extension they granted to us so that we could continue with due diligence, and for their acceptance of our proof of funds capable of mounting a credible takeover. This has been worked on around the clock by our team and advisors for the past 72 hours.”
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“As part of our due diligence, we set ourselves a list of key criteria regarding the CVA, the ground and the overall financial state of the club that had to be met in order for us to be satisfied that we have enough knowledge to proceed with the takeover. The complexities involved in each of these matters escalated and continue to do so.
“It is therefore with regret that we have decided not to proceed with the takeover of Bury FC. This decision has not been taken lightly. We fully understand the importance of the club to the community and it is with this in mind that we have informed the EFL of our decision at the earliest possible opportunity.”
An EFL statement in response read: “The league continues to be in discussions with Bury FC in advance of today’s 5pm deadline and will provide a further update as appropriate.”
Earlier on Tuesday, former Bury director Joy Hart said the club’s battle to preserve their English Football League status was ‘looking fairly positive’.
Hart, who protested at Gigg Lane on Friday ahead of the original deadline, told BBC Radio Manchester: “It’s all looking fairly positive, but one can never tell until the final whistle, as my father used to say.
“I’m expecting anything, but hoping for the very, very best. The emotion is still raw. Your stomach turns over every morning that you wake up. We hope the EFL let us live for another 134 years. It’s very emotional.”
Bolton could also be kicked out of the EFL today.
Wanderers are on the brink of liquidation, with their 145-year history hanging in the balance while quibbles continue over legal paperwork.
A deal to sell the Trotters to preferred bidders Football Ventures collapsed on Saturday morning – despite being virtually agreed hours earlier – and administrator Paul Appleton had warned on Monday that he would start closing the club down on Wednesday.
The EFL has given the club until 5pm today to prove a deal is done or provide reasons why they require an extension, otherwise a notice for their formal withdrawal from the league will be issued.