Terrace Thoughts 49, 20/09/2019

Dagenham was disappointing – in many ways – but we go again tomorrow – another home win and a step towards making the Vic a fortress again.

This week I will – of course – return the Shakers but I want to start with a thumbs up to Steve Gibson.

According to various reports Middlesbrough are set to sue the English Football League for allegedly failing to uphold their financial rules with regards to the Derby County owner’s purchase of Pride Park.

Boro – who missed out on a Championship play-off place by finishing one point behind Derby last season – have sent a legal letter to the EFL, whose board met on Thursday. Now this could sound like sour grapes but I applaud Gibson for this – it is about time someone further up the football pyramid made a stand.

We hear that the EFL are set to conduct independent valuations regarding sales by Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading of their own grounds to their owners.

Now, both Middlesbrough and the EFL have declined to comment on the issue, which is understandable but also a bit of a pain.

In May, the issue was raised by Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani, who accused Derby of “cheating” after owner Mel Morris bought Pride Park for £80m and leased it back to the club, helping the Rams achieve a profit of £14.6m. The ground had previously been listed on the club’s books as an asset worth £41m. Looks like a bit of a ‘no brainer’.

Earlier this summer, it was reported some Premier League clubs wanted the apparent loophole closed. Yeah, I’ll believe that when the likes of Man City and Chelsea are clearly complying with the Financial Fair Play rules…and by that I mean that, of course, they are, it just doesn’t always look like it.

Derby have defended the sale of their stadium, saying they conducted an independent commercial valuation prior to the deal being completed.

Aston Villa’s sale of Villa Park to the club’s owners is also set to be scrutinised by the Premier League, to establish whether it may have breached financial fair play rules. The stadium was sold in May for £56.7m to owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens via NSWE Stadium Ltd, a company controlled by the two billionaires. The deal helped Villa comply with the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules. Villa, promoted to the top flight in May, insist any such review is standard practice, and part of the normal assessments that all clubs face.

Boro chief Gibson has previously explained: “If a player deceives the referee I don’t expect that to be ignored and I don’t expect the EFL and other clubs to ignore Financial Fair Play.

“It’s there, it’s a rule, it’s an important rule and needs to be followed and if it’s not followed sanctions must be taken against those clubs that cheat”.

Will the EFL do anything? Probably not, but credit to Steve Gibson for having a go.

And so to Bury. The Press noise has died down and we see a return to inaction and a deafening silence from the footballing authorities. I reckon that this will always be the case – until a big club fails. If only Portsmouth had imploded before they dropped down the leagues……………

Of course various groups of Bury fans are trying to keep their hopes alive – I do sympathise but, as I said last week, they must be treated in the same way as other clubs – even if that means dispassionately and badly.

And now we see an impassioned letter backed by MPs has been sent to EFL clubs urging them to support Bury’s bid for readmission into the Football League. Bury North MP James Frith has laid out the case on behalf of the Shakers ahead of a league meeting on September 26. It is believed there will be a decision made on the day as to whether a vote is held on a proposal for the Gigg Lane club to be allowed to take their place in League Two next season having been expelled from the competition due to their financial problems. To me this is wrong – why do they deserve a better chance than, say, Locomotiv Darlington?

Frith is heading a rescue board – that includes fellow MP Ivan Lewis, the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, council representatives and fans’ group Forever Bury – that has set a deadline of today, September 20, to have a viable proposal for a stable Shakers future that will be put before the EFL members at the meeting.

“Every club wants to win at the expense of their rivals but rivalry is not the same as retribution. And is why therefore, with contrition, we are seeking your permission for re-admission to the league,” the letter, supported by MPs whose constituencies cover the other 71 clubs, reads.

“It has torn social, economic and cultural capital from the heart of the town, undermined a way of life, damaged the health and outlook for many fans and broken generations of football league watching family history all over Bury.”

There is no precedent for the request, the Shakers having been the first club since 1992 to be thrown out of the league. But with several investigations on-going around the circumstances that led to the end of 125 years of Football League membership, the campaign has gained support in recent days and weeks.

An online petition calling for the club to be reinstated has around 50,000 signatures and new Bolton Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan has indicated she would welcome the Shakers back into the league in the right circumstances.

“If there was a solution that was tabled that worked and that enabled Bury to come back to life that’s a big tick from me,” she said.

Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt, who has been advising Frith during his campaign, has however indicated that clubs will need plenty of answers from Bury and believes a formal decision on September 26 is unlikely.

“It’s a difficult one. I speak to owners who say Bury shouldn’t have been in League One anyway. So if they go into League Two, they won’t actually be relegated,” he told ITV’s From the North podcast.

I greatly respect Andy Holt but I can’t really support Bury – but make your own mind up – here is the letter in full……………

We write with an urgent appeal to you in the strongest and most humble of terms.

Following great upheaval for the club and community but ultimately the failure to provide required  proof of funds, Bury FC were expelled from the Football League by the EFL on August 28th, 2019 after 134 years of English Football at Gigg Lane and 125 years membership of the League.

We know there’s anger in the family of clubs at the mismanagement at Bury. The league is highly competitive, its integrity and that of the football pyramid is crucial. We get it.

We also know there was a collective gulp in the family of clubs as to the punishment handed to Bury FC in not wholly unique circumstances surrounding it in the long run-up to its eventual expulsion. This raises wider questions and implications for the league as will be determined by the independent review commissioned by the EFL since and that of the Parliamentary Select Committee and elsewhere.

Every club wants to win at the expense of their rivals but rivalry is not the same as retribution. And is why therefore, with contrition, we are seeking your permission for re-admission to the League.

We say round here; keep the faith. So now we are putting our faith in you as one of the remaining 71 clubs that will decide on September 26th the terms on which and whether you help determine what next for Bury FC and the League.

How the EFL restores itself to 72 clubs is in your hands and following precedent and complexity, we ask please that on the provision of new club ownership you approve in principle and with what terms, Bury FC’s readmission to League 2 from 2020/21 season? At this time we are asking for the opportunity to apply for such a chance. Any subsequent application would be based on new ownership of the club as outline in a process statement on 26th September and based on new clear evidence of the clubs financial viability and its ability to fulfil its ongoing commitments.

The mechanism for how this is achieved is entirely yours to decide. We humbly suggest this could be achieved with one less team relegated from League 1 at the conclusion of the current season. And that Bury be restored to the pyramid in League 2 following the substantial punishment to date, a season’s loss of football and relegation to a lower league than before.

Further detail will be put in front of you at the meeting on September 26th following this appeal for your support. Enclosed is the statement from the Rescue Board drawing together the supporters trust, representatives from the club, wider community and civic and political leaders.

Whilst media and national attention has subsided, the hurt for Bury has not. It has torn social, economic and cultural capital from the heart of the town, undermined a way of life, damaged the health and outlook for many fans and broken generations of football league watching family history all over Bury.

Yours sincerely

We are the lucky ones – so thanks Raj – and thanks to the boys and girls of HUST – the Plan B which we hope that we’ll never need! And isn’t the latest lottery announcement awesome? Have you bought your tickets yet? Why not buy some as Christmas presents?

Support Pools and get a holiday in Dubai! Genius!

Pip Pippity Pip Pip

John

Catch up on John’s Terrace Thoughts 48 from last week here.

1 Comment

  1. Tough luck Bury, you’re no more deserving or important to your local community than any other football club. Unfortunately your owners screwed up and the potential saviours of the club didn’t come forward until too late.

    As a result youshould have to go down the five leagues or so like everybody else who has been in the same position, then you’ll find out how important the football club is to the community .

    If its that important you’ll all get behind the new club and support them until they rise like a Phoenix to their rightful place back in the football league. Or alternatively you’ll go and support another football club in you area, it’s not like you don’t have an alternative. I hope it’s the first one, but unfortunately you have to go down, we would have to. So would everybody else.

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