Last week, the football world was rocked by the news that Gigg Lane, one of the most historic football grounds in England, is up for sale. It’s just the latest chapter in one of the saddest football tales of recent times, following the expulsion of Bury FC from the football league after the club went into administration in 2019. So how did things come to this and is there any way back for a club whose history dates back to the 1880s?
Former giants with international appeal
Bury was one of the founding members of the English Football League. Formed in 1885, the club played its first game at Gigg Lane. Over the subsequent 134 years, the world changed beyond recognition, but Bury FC and Gigg Lane remained a constant. In the early years, Bury duked it out with the best of them, winning two FA Cup finals including a 6-0 victory in 1903 that remains a record for the highest ever winning margin to this day.
More recently, Bury has teetered between League One and League Two, but despite the more modest aspirations of recent times, support remained strong. Those who backed Bury at the bookies had their faith rewarded at the end of the 2018/19 season as the team were promoted to League One and they were attracting interest from football fans from as far afield as the USA and Australia.
What a difference four months made. The people at AustralianCasinoSites.com told us “Some gambling sites we list will still offer bets on Bury – but these days, they only relate to whether the club will ever play again. Visit our website to find out more.”
It all came down to a deadly combination of difficult market conditions and poor financial management. It’s not an easy life in the lower divisions, and Bury was sorely missing the money that European qualification might have brought.
Owner Steve Dale tried to borrow his way out of trouble in order to get results out in the middle and therefore keep fans coming in through the gates. It worked in as much as the team achieved promotion, but it was all built on a house of cards.
By the time promotion was assured, the writing was on the wall. Debts were mounting up and even players had not received a pay cheque in months, so the big talents started to walk out. Dale, a local businessman, had bought the club for one pound complete with significant debts run up by the former owners, but he had taken on more than he could handle. Attempts were found to find a new buyer, but it was too late and the club went into administration on 27 August 2019.
If Gigg Lane is sold to a developer, it will spell the certain end of Bury FC. However, there is still hope that this can be avoided. A campaign to bring the ground under community control and to either revive Bury FC or launch a phoenix club has backing from both local MP James Daly and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. Much rests on what develops over the coming weeks, so for now, we can only watch and wait.