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Open Letter to the EFL

Earlier this morning the Forever Bury board submitted the following two letters directly to Debbie Jevons.

Dear Miss Jevans

We write in response to the EFL’s decision to expel Bury FC from the football league in reliance on Article 4.7.5. It is our position that the application of Article 4.7.5 in this manner is misguided and contrary to the purpose of 4.7.5 which is a protective provision designed to ensure the preservation of a member club by facilitating the transfer of a club’s share as has just occurred in the case of Bolton Wanderers. It is not, and never has been, envisaged as a sword to expel a club from league membership and the EFL’s utilisation of the provision in this manner is both ill-founded and inequitable.

This provision has formed part of the EFL’s articles for over 20 years (being present in all restatements of the EFL’s Memorandum and Articles since those filed on 27 July 1998) and has never in that time been utilised as a mechanism with which to expel a club from league membership. This is despite over 61 ‘Insolvency Events’ occurring in the seasons 1998 to 2008 and 13 of those clubs involved experiencing more than one insolvency event in that period (figures taken from an article published in the International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship in April 2010). Whilst we don’t have the full figures to hand for Insolvency Events over the last ten years, we are aware a further 18 clubs have entered administration in that timeframe, none of which have been expelled from the league by the EFL.

Articles 4.5 and 4.6 on their construction expressly refer to the ‘transfer’ of the membership share which is in contrast to the penal league Regulations which expressly provide for the ‘expulsion’ of a member club such as Regulations 8.2 and 92.2.9. These disciplinary Regulations recognise that where such a serious and fundamental step such as expulsion is recommended by the Board, that it must be ratified by the member clubs at general meeting given the catastrophic consequences that expulsion of a member club has for clubs, players, fans and communities.

It is beyond dispute that the fans and minority shareholders of Bury FC which we represent are sufficiently affected by the outcome of the EFL’s rash decision to expel the club and on this basis we have the requisite standing to request that as a minimum the EFL immediately reinstate Bury’s membership pending ratification of the Board’s recommendation for expulsion at a properly constituted general meeting of the members of the EFL.

The EFL’S misguided handling of this matter has directly prejudiced the interests all Bury FC stakeholders including its creditors, shareholders, players and employees and we reserve all our rights to hold the EFL accountable in this respect.

It is however our hope that this matter can be resolved quickly and without the need for formal legal action to challenge the validity of the EFL’s decision on the grounds that expelling Bury in the manner employed was ultra vires and resulted in procedural unfairness. To this end we should be grateful if you would revert with your decision by no later than 5pm today (30 August 2019).

Yours sincerely,

Forever Bury Supporters Trust

Additionally, the following email was sent later this morning.

Dear Mrs Jevans,

Further to our earlier letter we also wish to raise the following issues in relation to the EFLs failure to follow procedures and act in accordance with natural justice.

1 How do you justify your failure to inform the staff and owner of the club in advance of a public announcement of Bury FCs expulsion from the League?

2 When the Board made its decision to expel our club,members were not even in the same room together. The final decision was made as a result of some Board members sending in Emails and text messages. How can this be regarded as a professional or legally acceptable way of making such a profoundly important decision?

As with our earlier letter please can you respond by 5 pm 30th August 2019.

Yours sincerely, The Forever Bury Supporters Trust

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