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Bury: Financially-stricken League One side have game against Gillingham suspended

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Bury have had League One games against MK Dons, Accrington and now Gillingham, as well as a Carabao Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday suspended so far in August

Bury’s match against Gillingham on Saturday has been suspended by the English Football League – their fourth game to be called off this season.

The League One club was unable to satisfy the EFL’s request to prove its financial viability by 09:00 BST.

The decision by the EFL comes a day after owner Steve Dale said he would consider a sale after a “lifeline” takeover offer was made on Monday.

Bury are also working towards a 23 August deadline to avoid EFL expulsion.

An EFL statement said: “Clarity is still required on plans to meet the club’s commitments to football creditors, payment to unsecured creditors as part of the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), alongside source and sufficiency of funding for season 2019-20.”

It added that a decision regarding the League One fixture against Rotherham on 20 August will be taken on Thursday, and said the EFL “remains committed to working with the club to try and find a successful conclusion”.

The future of the 134-year-old club has come under serious threat this summer because of the financial turmoil.

While the Shakers won promotion from League Two last season despite their money problems, they are yet to begin life in England’s third division as their opening three league fixtures, against MK Dons, Accrington and now Gillingham, have all been suspended.

Tuesday’s Carabao Cup first-round tie against Sheffield Wednesday was also called off because of the ongoing crisis at Gigg Lane.

‘A manic 15 hours’

Within minutes of the EFL imposing a new 15-hour deadline on Monday evening to get satisfactory evidence about how Bury will pay outstanding creditors and meet ongoing costs, Shakers staff posted a statement on the club website “imploring” Dale to sell after they reviewed a bid from an unnamed bidder.

It prompted Dale to say he would sell if the bidder was the “right fit for Bury”, having previously said he would not consider offloading the club until financial stability had been restored.

“Due to the agenda with the EFL, my health and recent events at the club I can confirm I am happy to pass the club on to the next custodian,” Dale told BBC Radio Manchester in a statement.

A potential takeover, the suspension of a fourth game and the plea from staff come after months of trouble at Gigg Lane.

Bury have already been given a 12-point deduction for the season after entering into a CVA – which is classed as an insolvency event by the EFL – to try to clear some of their debts.

A winding-up petition against them was dismissed by the High Court on 31 July, with Dale going on to claim the EFL were “working against” the club, to which the league’s executive chair Debbie Jevans later said that they were “not standing in the way” of the club’s survival.

While a withdrawal of membership was served by the EFL and later suspended earlier in the summer, it has now been lifted, with the club now facing expulsion if financial order cannot be restored by 23 August.

Bury North MP, James Frith, has said “time is ticking and running out” for the club and added that he had been given assurances that the expulsion order could again be paused.

“The latest news is encouraging but we have been here before,” he told BBC Radio Manchester. “Steve Dale has already been in a court of law telling a judge that he intended to sell.

“So no more games Mr Dale, he needs to engage with the prospective new owners.

“I’ve had assurances from the EFL, (executive chair) Debbie Jevans herself, that there is scope to pause the clock on the expulsion order so that we don’t just hurtle over a cliff edge, despite there being conversations now apparently ready to happen.”

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