Town Hall Meeting 30/09/19 - Notes

Below is a copy of my notes from last night meeting. Welcome etc.

Obviously, EFL decisions earlier this week have been a bitter pill to swallow. We as fans of the football club are devastated and are gutted at the result of what has happened. However, be under no illusion that two men have been the orchestrators of the demise of Bury Football Club and we the supporters trust are the ones who have been left to try and pick up the pieces and save what remains of our football club.

I would like to place on record my thanks to those members who have helped put together the contact lists and personalised letters that went out to all supporters trusts, chairpersons and owners of the 71 football clubs. To the following supporters trusts who have helped support our case and supported us with good advice:

Bolton Wanderers Rochdale AFC Birmingham City

Leyton Orient Morcambe FC to name but a few.

At the last meeting we promised you a follow up meeting where we would table the options ahead and allow you the supporters to vote. The options ahead are as follows.

Legal action against the EFL.

The option to take legal action against the EFL comes with pros and cons, some of which could be detrimental to the future relationship of the EFL.

Cons

Costings Legal action against the EFL could be costly and may not guarantee results. We would all so need to foot the bill for EFL legal costs if we lose case.

Future Relationship Should the football club get back into the league in the future the club would naturally have to have a relationship with the League. Legal action could cause issues going forward.

Uncertainty If we win case, it may still not result in being readmitted to the football league.

Timing We would not instigate proceedings until Mr Dale has left the club as any compensation as a result of legal action would go to the directly to the owner of the Club.

Pros

Could win case Possible re-admitance to League; more likely to be given compensation, like Sheffield United; this could be considerable.

Address an injustice Make everyone feel better.

Potential Bidder

We appreciate that there have been many times where we have been in the situation where we have talked about potential bidders. This has been the case many times over the last four months, some of whom have been very credible people who most people in this place would have been more than happy to have taken charge of our Club. However, like most of the individuals we have had contact with, they have given up trying to deal with Mr Dale and have walked away; some having gone on turning their interest towards other Clubs. You can imagine how frustrating this has been for the Forever Bury team who between them have spent literally thousands of hours trying to get just one of these opportunities over the line. However, Forever Bury has remained steadfast in their attempt to save Bury Football Club from the mismanagement of the current owner. From relationships Forever Bury has nurtured up over the months, we were approached by a prospective bidder, who at this moment in time wants to remain anonymous.

Since that time, we have had constructive discussions and have provided professional help, relevant financial, club and league structure information even contact information for each of the relevant parties. Further, on the request of the bidder, James Frith was invited to be a part of the ongoing discussions.

Their intention is to work in collaboration with the Forever Bury, Bury Council and numerous local organisations and businesses to create a community-led football club.

They believe it’s time for a big change in the way clubs such as Bury are run and are working with organisations with a vested interest to get ready to step up to the challenge.

Although we have been in collaboration with the bidder for some time, there is much work to be done. Their intention is to get all the relevant parties and organisations with vested interests lined up before making a bid for the club. Preparation work before bidding will ensure a much smoother process going forward.

The bidder has provided the following statement.

"The statement issued by the EFL on 26th September after their assessment of the passionate and credible request from various parties to allow readmission to league 2 next season was gutting and disappointing.

However, the content was not unexpected. The current situation regarding the corporate future of The Bury Football Club Limited, whose majority shareholder is Mr Dale, is complex, to say the least.


Such complexities require careful and considered solutions, which, in turn, also require time and patience to allow meaningful progress to be made.


It must be placed on record at this stage that the current financial situation which has been allowed to develop over recent years is nothing short of catastrophic. In light of this, the statement made by the EFL last week was understandable.


The work carried out over recent weeks by the Rescue Board and, in particular, the members of Forever Bury, has been exemplary. Bury Football Club, the supporters and the community are indeed fortunate to have such dedication and passion at its core. It is unfortunate that this degree of support has not resulted in retention of an EFL place for next season.


However, the fact that we are prepared to make this statement after the EFL ruling should be treated as confirmation that Bury Football Club is still alive.


As mentioned earlier, the complex ongoing discussions require a level of confidentiality. A plea goes out to Bury FC fans to respect that confidentiality at this stage whilst we continue to engage with all relevant parties, but please be assured that all avenues will continue to be explored, always with the future existence of a community-based club playing football at Gigg Lane being the main focus.


We request that you continue to support the Rescue Board in their work, and we will continue to do the same.


Please be patient, continue to respect confidences and pull together for the greater good of Bury Football Club.


Thank you for listening."


We must be clear when we say that the club is not dead. Yes, it is a shell and is Bury Football Club in name only. However, by saving the club we save the history and we save the membership of the Football Association which is absolutely crucial going forward.


Without the membership of the Football Association, any phoenix club would have to apply to be a member of the FA and start right at the bottom of the pyramid, North West Counties league, the 10th tier of football, just like AFC Wimbledon did.


If we can save the club and as result the membership of the Football Association, we would be able to potentially start higher, initial discussions have shown that this could possibly be the Vanarama Conference North, the 6th tier. This could theoretically save us at least 4 years of work and this is the best-case scenario of back to back promotions every year.


If we can get the potential bidder across the finishing line it would maintain the name, the history, the FA membership and crucially years of hard work to get us back into the football league.


Phoenix Club


Recently, we were approached by a group of fans that have been working on starting a Phoenix Club. They have made good progress in preparing the groundwork should a Phoenix Club be needed. Our priority at the time of the approach was to save Bury Football Club at all costs. So, we as a board asked for them to carry on with their efforts in the background.


The energies of the phoenix club working group have been greatly appreciated and have been growing further in strength and organisation. The working group has been in active discussions with fans on the main Bury FC social media sites such as Gigglane.com and the Facebook groups, as well as with Forever Bury.


They have been diligently putting together a list identifying potential volunteers with relevant skill sets. Their efforts have resulted in the recruitment of more than 100 volunteers who want to be involved in taking the Phoenix Club project forward.


A full application and business plan must be submitted to the FA by January 2020 in order for a Phoenix Club to play next season, so time is of the essence. Because of this short time frame and the fact Forever Bury's time and resources are currently taken up attempting to save Bury FC Ltd, we are tonight endorsing this group to take the Phoenix Club feasibility study forward.


While we hope it won't be needed, we must be prepared if it is. Later this week the working group will be meeting to provide a working structure that they can present to the public when the time is right.


It is important to stress that this is not a public meeting. That will come later and only if the rescue attempts to save Bury FC Ltd are not successful. Forever Bury will be attending the meeting as a party with a vested interest.


The Phoenix Club group welcomes new volunteers to submit their details of how they think they can help the club prepare if the application needs to go ahead. If you wish to do this, please speak to Anne Bent or submit the online form which will be available on Gigglane.com and the Facebook supporters page.


Whatever peoples’ views are toward a Phoenix Club, it has to be said it is a massive undertaking requiring substantial human and financial resources. It is a commitment not to be undertaken lightly by the individuals that put themselves forward to lead such a project. The challenges are considerable, not least raising the finance to secure and operate Gigg Lane, or an alternative venue and to pay any full time employees to head up the project administration, as it would be doubtful if this latter task could be undertaken on a strictly voluntary basis.


Liquidation

Should a solvent sale not happen in the coming weeks it is likely that the Club will be liquidated. This could be brought about in several ways:


If Mr Dale starts the process – he would then be in control.


If Capital Bridging Finance starts the process – they could call in their loan


If Mr Wiseglass starts the process – as a result of non-payment of the CVA


However, it is most likely be done by the HMRC on 16 October via their winding up petition.


It is speculated that should the Club be liquidated there may well be several parties who would be interested in taking the Club from the liquidator as a debt free entity. This on the face of it is an attractive option but may result in the Club starting off in a lower league than a solvent sale. However, such an eventuality would have to be weighed against the saving of not having to honour the CVA and paying the owner; approximately £2M.


On the plus side of this argument is that it would be unlikely that the FA would readmit Bury, based at Gigg Lane, in tiers 8, 9 or 10 based on clubs at these levels being unable to accommodate large away followings safely. However, these assumptions would need to be tested.


Summary

In summary, we are asking you, the supporters of Bury Football Club to support us in our plan going forward. That is to try and save the football club with the prospective buyer we are currently in discussions with, or any other party should this one fail, and to continue the work with the working party for the formation of a new phoenix club should the need arise.




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