I would like to recap the past six months here at Bury FC and to separate fact from fiction in light of the many rumours that are circulating, as well as advising of the future.
I have outlined in my previous statements the difficult environment we bought into in late November, which has been well documented. Even though I was advised by my advisors not to proceed, I decided I could help, given the information we had was true. Whilst not ideal, we took it on. This football club was in serious trouble, and this turned out to be far in excess of what we could have comprehended. I can confidently say that had the takeover not gone ahead when it did, Bury Football Club would have been no more.
I do not look at social media, but I’m advised there have been countless ill-truths, accusations, and alleged leaks from staff as the basis of these. As most of these are from the same disturbed few, I give them no credibility as I would advise you not to. Genuine fans do not drill holes in their own boat, based not on facts, but speculation.
Two points that we are asked and I want to address in particular are the following:
Supposed asset stripping
Bury Heritage Ltd was created to safeguard cups and memorabilia which debt collectors were looking to seize when I arrived at the Club. The items in question have been moved into a separate company (for value) so that they’re no longer at risk of being taken and sold to cover historical Club debts. Rather than ‘stripping’ as alleged, I have acted with the opposite as my intention, and the actions taken will now allow them to remain here at the Club and be passed safely to future custodians. One Friday at 5pm, they attended, trying to take the goalposts to prevent the match taking place on the Saturday. I could go on, as there have been dozens of occasions like this; safe to say not what we expected, but we have fought them off.
Supposed property transfers
Contrary to some reports, I can also confirm that the stadium has not been transferred to Bury Heritage or Bury Leisure Ltd, nor has it been moved to any other companies. There is currently an alleged mortgage on the stadium of c£3.2m, taken out allegedly in various tranches by the previous owners. Please be advised this would (if proven valid) have to be repaid in full before any transfer into another company could ever take place. Our Social Club is also at risk due to another loan being taken out on it by the previous owners which we were going to repay from Bury Leisure. That company was intending to build a new Social Club and bar at Bury Leisure’s cost that the Club could use. Due to events, this is on hold.
I have always stated that I am here to use my 45-years of business experience to help rebuild Bury Football Club as a business; a business that has been completely mismanaged and stripped of almost all tangible value over the course of the last few years. We have faced many challenges, both within the Club and outside, some that we were prepared for and, unfortunately, others that have become apparent since. I have, in particular, had the added disadvantage of having to manage these unexpected demands that come with my role as Chairman, whilst trying to maintain my health and the effects it has had on my family that were not expected.
People need to realise that WITHOUT THE CLUB THERE IS NO FOOTBALL, saving that had and has to take precedence over everything. As I said day one, I could help with the business side, but the football side needed to be dealt with by the professionals.
Let’s be clear here; there would have been no Bury FC had we not took it on. Was it 100 times worse than we thought? Yes, it was. I can’t expand on this, as it would prejudice our case in law. We have daily battles to keep the Club alive, but one thing is clear the Club needs to understand what it is. It’s a Club with c4,500 regular fans; it has staffing levels akin to a Championship Club. We need c£1.6m to pay wages, HMRC, pensions (not creditors) to the end of May, and we have a projected income of c£180k for this period. As a comparable, our wage bill to end of May is equivalent to 2/3 of League One Accrington’s TURNOVER for the year. So, you tell me how it can sustain it without it getting back to basics. Clearly, we have not made ourselves popular with the staff for our need to cut back, but our job is to save the Club, not ingratiate. As an example, Mr. Day brought in staff to run his failed hotel and stadium complex; of course, we don’t have that, but the staff remain - one on the second highest salary in the Club, so what do you think we should do?
As stated, this was not our area; however, we assisted with our new signings that have been a great asset. Day-to-day, the football side is dealt with admirably by Lee Dykes our Sporting Director, Ryan Lowe our Manager, the team, and football staff, and results prove their resolve. This last month we have indeed encountered difficult times both on the field, without a key player, and off the field, due to cash flow, but they have pushed on, and our thanks go to them.
Given my disclosures above as to the level of these, you can get a feel for the problems we face. However, I feel I must address the last month's accusations. We asked the players, due to c£250k of electric and water bills (along with numerous other bills) hitting, and monies not coming in as expected, if could they wait for their wages so we could keep the Club open; players agreed. We then paid staff 50% of their wage, and given we had promises of payments; we were confident we could clear them mid-month. The payments did not materialise, the staff were paid a further 25%, and with the help of the PFA, the players had the option of getting a 50% advance on salaries; so, not as stated nobody paid. Was this ideal, certainly not, but we daily have to choose between keeping the Club trading or paying others. It is not a nice decision to make I can tell you, and only by making cutbacks will this correct itself, as it cannot continue as it is.
Despite all the above, I can happily say that we have survived closure, have solid plans to hopefully save the Club, not just for now, but in the future, given we get the support the Club desperately needs. We are also sat here just two games (perhaps one) away from achieving promotion to League One.
I would like to sincerely thank the people who have rallied around the Club in such a positive way without agenda, including fans, some who have already purchased their season ticket for next season, assisting cash flow; this goes a long way to ensuring the future of Bury FC. I would also like to sincerely thank the players for their dedication and commitment, those members of staff who have remained supportive and resilient, and indeed Board members who get paid nothing.
Having said my thanks and clarified some of the speculation, it is now time to address the future.
I said from day one I was only a temporary custodian, I would fight to save the Club, and I felt confident we would do well on the field, then I would pass it on to a future younger custodian.
Well six months on, we're still going, despite social media’s predictions of closure daily. Has it been difficult? More than you could imagine, and our plans if everyone buys in to reduce the outgoings and staff, will ensure its future. Our team have done us proud on the field certainly, and as stated, we're two, perhaps one game away from League One, so job done and given my health, it’s time for me to move on with regret and reluctance, recent events have galvanized this resolve
Furthermore, over the last few days, I have received some expressions of interest. Given this, I would like to openly invite offers to me directly, to take over ownership of the Club.
Consideration will be given to prospective buyers who are able to commit the necessary time, money and full, undivided attention that’s needed to build upon the progress we’ve made which is considerable, and secure the future of this great Club for many years to come.
In advance of the scorn of the linguistics amongst you, if there are mistakes I apologise, getting the message over was more important.