EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans has explained how Steve Dale was allowed to become owner of Bury the day after they were expelled from the English Football League.
The Shakers on Tuesday had their license revoked and will almost certainly be liquidated following C&N Sporting Risk pulling out of a proposed takeover of the crisis-club.
Dale, the current owner, later claimed he had received three further bids leading to calls for the EFL to grant Bury an extension, but shortly after 11pm the League’s decision was announced.
Dale been widely criticised for his running of the club which has resulted in Bury becoming the first team to drop out the Football League for off-field reasons since Maidstone United in 1992, though the EFL have also taken much of the blame.
The governing body have been accused of failing the Gigg Lane outfit by allowing Dale to complete his takeover, with similar criticisms directed at the EFL for their decision to grant Ken Anderson control of Bolton, who could follow Bury out the League in 14 days unless they are taken over or can prove they have funding for the remainder of the 2019/20 season.
So just why did the EFL allow Dale to become Bury owner? Debbie Jevans, the EFL executive chair, joined Jim White on talkSPORT on Wednesday to explain.
“If I was a Bury fan I would be asking the very same question,” said Jevans.
“Going back what happens is Mr Dale walked into these offices with the previous owner and has purchased the club. He had already purchased the club.
“At that point we went into the regulations and looked at the owners’ and directors’ test, which he then passed, and from that point on we’ve been saying ‘show us you’ve got the funds to run this club. How are you going to run this club?’
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“And, don’t forget, he was paying the players to begin with.
“So the point they [Bury fans] are raising is a point that is valid, and I’ve consistently said we have to look back and learn lessons so we don’t find ourselves in this situation again.”
Tuesday was a hectic day for those involved with both the club and the EFL, with discussions taking place all day between both parties to try and save Bury.
Jevans continued: “Yesterday afternoon was a very long afternoon; it was not even the afternoon, it was the whole day in fact when we were still in communication with Mr Dale and C&N Sporting Risk, who were doing all the due diligence they said they needed to do to ensure that the takeover took forward the club.
“We were going backwards and forwards with them supporting them with all the information we had and then at 3pm – just a couple of hours before the deadline we set – they said they could not continue.
“Their due diligence had demonstrated that it was impossible to move forward with the purchase, and at that point they pulled out and put the release out that everybody has seen.”
C&N Sporting Risk cited ‘insurmountable challenges’ as their reason for pulling out, and Jevans confirmed the EFL will work with the sports analytics company to discover just what was going on behind the scenes at Gigg Lane.
“We haven’t seen their information yet,” she added, “but they said they will show us all of what they have uncovered and we are going to take them up on that offer.
“This situation is sad and devastating. I’ve been involved in many sports over a long period of time and yesterday was one of the most difficult situations either myself or the board have ever found ourselves in.”
But what of the bids Dale claimed to have received in the final hours of Bury’s 125-year spell as a Football League club.
“We have been going back and forth with Mr Dale and constantly worked with him, making compromises where we could, and asked for information to be shared,” said Jevans.
“And at the eleventh hour there were emails received… a flurry of Mr Dale saying he had accepted this and accepted that.
“There was no substance to anything we received that would allow us to delay this further and then find ourselves in a week or two weeks’ time in the same situation again.”
The focus now turns to Bury’s future.
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The club will not be able to play league football until next season at the earliest, and they’ve also been kicked out this season’s FA Cup.
Any reformation of the club will see them enter the English pyramid at non-league level.
Could Jevans provide any information for supporters on this most distressing of days?
“We are going to be speaking to the club today, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what are the options.
“If you look at a club like AFC Wimbledon, they started as a community club and applied to the FA, and they started very low down.
“Now look at them; they’ve come back and got a new ground being built and are in League One.
“That does not mean in any shape or form I’m making light of this situation, but there is a chance for the club to continue.
“But clearly this is early days and emotion is very, very high.”
And finally, did the EFL fail Bury by allowing Dale to take control in the first place?
“What we operated on is the rules that exist at the moment. Does that mean we need to look back and consider things? Absolutely it does.
“Don’t forget that those rules are laid down by the 72 clubs.
“What the EFL does is run the League; clubs run clubs and we operate within rules that are laid down and voted for by those clubs.
“Going forwards we are, of course, going to talk to the clubs, and they will reflect. Clubs do need to be run in a sustainable way.
“It’s real life and it’s shocking. I totally understand that without any question, and that is why we have been working with and communicating with Mr Dale over the past month.
“This isn’t just five minutes!
“Of course I have sympathy which is why we have not left a stone unturned.
“Once the CVA [company voluntary arrangement] was passed we could have issued the notice of withdrawal… but we didn’t, we suspended it.
“At that point under the regulations there have to be two years’ proof of funding. With the board we went to Mr Dale and said ‘just show us one year. Show us one year’s proof of funding and we will work with you for the long-term future of the club’.
“We have tried everything.”
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Bolton fans face a nervous fortnight wait before discovering whether their club will survive, and Jevans had a message for the Wanderers faithful.
“We finished working with Bolton and the administrator and 3am this morning,” she finished.
“Everybody wants that deal to close.
“I’m saying it’s very close and I know people will be shouting at the radio when I say that as they’ve heard it before, but what we couldn’t have again was a situation where you’ve got young players out there playing, losing 5-0 every week – that is not a sustainable way to run a football league.
“So we’ve issued that notice and lifted the suspension.
“But I will say to everyone, that at 3am this morning conversations were still ongoing.”
Listen to the full interview with Debbie Jevans on Jim White, above…