The pitch at Gigg Lane will stay empty for the rest of the season. Photo: Dom Fellowes / CC BY 2.0

The lower tiers of English football can perhaps look forward to a new club amongst their number in a year or two, after historic EFL club, Bury FC, were expelled from the Football League recently. Already suffering a 12-point deduction for entering into a company voluntary arrangement, Bury had yet to play a game this season and were leaking players when the expulsion was announced by the EFL. It marks a sad end to a proud club whose history stretches back to 1885.

Why were Bury expelled?

Much like fellow League One strugglers, Bolton Wanderers, Bury had been strapped for cash for a long time and desperately looking for a buyer. For a while it appeared that one had been found, in the form of Football Ventures, but this deal collapsed before the EFL deadline. Ironically, a deal with Football Ventures saved Bolton from a similar threat just a few days later, showing how close Bury were to grasping a lifeline. Controversially, a last minute, £7m deal with C&N Sporting Risk was not finalised in time to meet the EFL deadline and the club was expelled on 27th August without playing a game in the 2019-20 season.

What happens next for League One?

Bury’s expulsion will not affect non-league football this season, as there will still be just two promotion places available from the National League. However only one club will be relegated from the EFL. League One will continue with 23 clubs with just three clubs relegated instead of four, although four teams will go up from League Two to balance League One at the end of the season.

Most League One fans will not notice much difference, beyond the occasional weekend off. That said, it is so much harder to predict the outcome of League One games when we don’t even know who will still be in it from one week to the next. After all, Bury are far from the only club facing financial difficulties.

Has Bury FC got a future?

Expulsion from the EFL for financial problems is nothing new. As far back as 1962, Accrington Stanley went bust and ceased playing for six years. They have since recovered and are now playing in League One. Similarly, Wimbledon FC survived the original club’s relocation to Milton Keynes, with the fan-created AFC Wimbledon also now a League One side. Given the passion shown by the club and its supporters over recent weeks, it is safe to say we have not heard the last of Bury FC and it will be no surprise to see them working their way back up the pyramid in a couple of years’ time.

 

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