A former director at ailing Bury FC has chained herself to the main stand pleading for help to save the club from extinction.
Joy Hart, whose father Les is a Bury legend, having been player, physio, trainer and manager, called on Bury’s billionaire footballing neighbours in the Premiership to step in before a looming Friday deadline set by the Football League when the club’s 135-year history will end.
Ms Hart, chained by a handcuff on her left hand to a downpipe on the main stand outside Bury FC reception, said: “I feel it so strongly someone has to make a stance and get publicity for Bury FC.
“There’s so many big clubs out there, your Citys and Uniteds, we’ve given them so many players over the years, so many players and at the time it wasn’t a pittance but in today’s terms it is.
“Why cannot these clubs, even your Liverpools and Evertons and what have you, why cannot all these clubs come together put some money in to buy Bury Football Club, to keep us alive?
“We are a footballing family, please be that footballing family now and save us, please.
“There’s a hell of a lot of money in football, only at the top end, not for your likes of Bury and your Oldhams and your Rochdales and even your Boltons.”
Ms Hart, who herself was a director under a former chairman, made a direct plea to current owner Steve Dale, who bought the ailing club for £1, she said.
She added: “He’s now been offered millions to sell and he’s wanting his two pounds of flesh and he isn’t selling.
“We have until Friday otherwise Bury FC, as a 135-year-old football club in the league will die and the town will die with it, and that’s not being too melodramatic.
“This is a personal plea – Mr Dale, please, I have written to you, I received no reply, please, please sell the club, you can afford it, please save us, everyone will love you.”
Bury face the prospect of being ejected from League One on Friday if Mr Dale cannot prove he can fund the club.
Bury, along with near neighbours Bolton, were given 12-point penalties for entering administration after the end of last season but Bury have not even been able to start the new campaign while Bolton cancelled Tuesday’s game against Doncaster because they only had three senior players available.
Bury have had their first six games postponed by the English Football League, been removed from the EFL Cup and face the very real prospect of being ejected from the league on Friday, which would mean League One proceeding this season with only 23 teams.
In a recent interview with the PA news agency, the EFL’s interim chair Debbie Jevans denied this was evidence the league was failing.
“I would push back against that because, depending on which measure you use, the EFL is the fifth or sixth most popular league in Europe and the Carabao Cup is watched around the world – it’s a successful league,” Ms Jevans said.
“What I would say is we are stepping back and looking at our governance. We know there is a big reliance on our owners, so we need to look at that, player wages and the overarching way we do business.”
Bolton and Bury are not the only two clubs to have experienced financial difficulties in the last 12 months, with Macclesfield, Morecambe, Notts County, Oldham, Oxford, Reading and Southend all failing to pay wages on time at some point last season.