Bury FC’s expulsion from the Football League was a sad day for English football and blame for the collapse can be thrown squarely onto the owners. Football supporters might have levelled some discontent against the EFL for their unmoving, decisive action but ultimately they had their hands forced – they couldn’t continue to facilitate a sunken ship.
The Shakers legacy was ran into the ground by those in charge, and it’s no surprise that when the football community rallied around the club, they looked towards the option of potential readmission the following year back into the Football League in League Two. In fairness to the EFL too, they willingly facilitated this idea and rather than immediately strike it down, offered it to a vote for the fellow League Two clubs.
The outcome of that vote was to reject the proposal to reintroduce Bury back into the fourth tier from 2020, and looking at it impartially – and it must be done so, because as a football fan it is so sad to have watched the club’s fate and now existence in linbo — that was probably the right decision.
Re-entry into League Two just wasn’t the action. It would have made the whole EFL expulsion situation obsolete and redundant. As much as Bury supporters deserve their club to be back playing football once more, if they were back in League Two in 2020 it would have been no different to the club simply suffering a relegation – a likely fate if they had managed to get back on their feet and continued anyway, given their disadvantaged start.
It would have meant all the pain of the expulsion period would have been suffered for little, while the EFL’s tough decision – in many ways an uncompromising warning to future potentially absent owners or club mismanagement – null and void.
Bury weren’t targeted by the EFL through any intended malice with expulsion. Their owner was. The club was just the unfortunate casualty caught in the crossfire.
A firm statement had to be made. Too many owners are getting away with running clubs into the ground. Clubs which form the very centres of their communities seem increasingly in danger each week, and the EFL knew they had to do something to stamp it out. That means leading by example, a sacrificial lamb of sorts which Bury were forced to play the part of.
Should the Shakers survive and rebuild the right way, as they hopefully will, the lower levels of the National League and battling back to the Football League should be the way, and it’s a story fitting of a brave club.