James at Bury FC
James at Bury FC

Updated 18th November 2019

Click here for the statement agreed by me, Forever Bury, Mayor Andy Burnham, Ivan Lewis MP, GMCA and Bury Council following our meeting on 2nd September

I’ve been committed to the cause since April this year when I first learned of the difficulties at our club. I have been in regular contact with the owner, with fans, with the English Football League, with Bury Council, with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, with fellow MPs and with many others since the crisis began.

To secure its future I convened my Rescue Board bringing together Forever Bury, Bury Council, Mayor Andy Burnham, local business leaders and football experts including the owner of Accrington Stanley and former Burnley boss to guide our way forward and James’ work.

I have made clear to Steve Dale that the club needs new ownership and urged him to proceed with a sale to a suitable party, who we will have the chance to scrutinise beforehand. I have been in direct conversation with a number of prospective buyers.

I met Nigel Adams MP, Minister for Sport, on 9th September to secure his support for our efforts.

I met with the Chair of the Sport Select Committee, Damian Collins, and he agreed to my request to hold an inquiry into the situation at Bury FC. In October he came to Bury to hear directly from local stakeholders and fans as part of that work and the committee’s published report calls on the EFL to apologise to fans and the club and urges the Government to reform football governance.

Following the Rescue Board meeting on 27th September, which included the Forever Bury board and Mayor Andy Burnham, it was agreed that we would enlist the support of the FA and apply for National League football for the 2020/21 season.

It is clear that we are all united behind one aim; that Bury FC and football at Gigg must survive. The hundreds I’ve spoken with since the decision to expel us has confirmed this. And why we must now unite behind a bid backed by the community, with new ownership, to the EFL and the FA following work we must now complete.

I’m leading a realistic community-wide bid to purchase Gigg Lane as my contribution to the Bury FC Phoenix efforts. My proposal includes football back at Gigg alongside the proposed re-location of local businesses, an NHS health clinic, a sports facility and the backing of the fans’ trust with the Phoenix operation, our council and the Mayor’s office.

For those asking – the winding up order is for the current owner to address but none of the above is prohibited by this and though whilst there are no guarantees (liquidation remains a possible threat as it always has) there is faith in the process involving the FA as a next and ultimate next step for our future. In a timely fashion.

We can confirm that the ground is protected as an Asset of Community Value. And that the Mayor of Greater Manchester passed an emergency motion on 27th September to support our plan. Our efforts continue to have the support of all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester.

There is no magic football godmother. This takes hard work not easy promises. Our efforts have to be community-wide, fan-led and come from all over the town. I welcome any realistic proposal to secure Gigg but those bandying around easy solutions to complex problems haven’t done the detailed work to understand the issues. Bury Council continues to play its part as I’ve outlined but a decade of austerity and government cuts is no fit preparation to ask Bury taxpayers to pay off private loans whilst budget cuts to local services are still being imposed by the government.

Bury FC only dies if we walk away and we’re not walking away.

We keep the faith and we keep going.


James with Shakers fans
James with Shakers fans

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