Historic football club Bury on Tuesday became the first team to be expelled from the English Football League in over two decades after a takeover bid collapsed.
The two-time FA Cup winners, who only a few months ago were celebrating promotion to the third tier, lost all hope of salvation when a takeover bid fell apart shortly before the 1600 GMT deadline.
The club from northwest England are the first to be expelled from the league — comprising all the divisions below the top-tier Premier League — since Maidstone United in 1992.
Bury’s historic rivals Bolton — one of the founders of the Football League but who have been in administration since May — won some breathing space on Tuesday when they were given 14 days to find a buyer.
For Bury, though, the bell has tolled on their time in the Football League, ending over 100 years of participation which yielded two FA Cups and produced players like former Manchester City and England great Colin Bell.
Ironically Bury, who become the first FA Cup winners to be ousted from the league, and Bolton were due to face each other in a televised live match on Sunday week.
Bury are the first team to be expelled from the third tier of English football. The remaining 23 teams will complete the season and only three instead of four teams will be relegated.
A BBC journalist at the club’s Gigg Lane ground said that on hearing the news fans burst into tears with some so upset they were “crouching down to the floor”.
“Today is undoubtedly one of the darkest days in the league’s recent history,” said EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans.
“I understand this will be a deeply upsetting and devastating time for Bury’s players, staff, supporters and the wider community.”
Four-time FA Cup winners Bolton, who were in the Premier League as recently as the 2011-2012 season, have been given more time to try and sort out the proposed takeover by a company called Football Ventures (Whites) Limited.
“Despite repeated assurances, we are extremely disappointed that we are still not in a position to reach a successful resolution with the sale of Bolton Wanderers and have therefore taken the decision to lift the suspension on the notice of withdrawal,” said Jevans.
“I again urge all parties to finalise the proposed takeover.”
-‘The Lion of Vienna’ –
The writing had been on the wall for Bury after a rollercoaster of a day for fans and employees alike, when C&N Sporting Risk withdrew their takeover bid offer to Steve Dale, who had bought the club last December for a single pound.
C&N said in a statement they were “unable to proceed” with the bid and hinted that Bury’s problems ran deep.
“We will be happy to work together with the EFL to share our findings to help them with their ongoing review of football governance,” they said.
“It is essential for the long-term future of all members of the EFL and the broader football family.”
Unlike Bury, who had yet to play a match this season due to their financial uncertainty, Bolton had fulfilled most of their fixtures, albeit with a team made up of youngsters.
However, having been close to a deal last Friday the plug was pulled on it, reportedly due to former owner Ken Anderson wanting assurances from the administrator that he would not be subject to repaying any more money once the club changed hands.
Fildraw, the family trust set up by Bolton’s great benefactor during their Premier League years, the late Eddie Davies, would not agree to that condition as it has a charge of o10 million ($12.3 million) for debt.
The Bolton faithful collected round the statue of their most celebrated player, the late former England striker Nat Lofthouse, known as the “Lion of Vienna”. Tuesday would have been his 94th birthday.
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