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  1. ITV Report

Former Bury FC director chains herself to drainpipe as club’s future threatened

A former director of struggling Bury Football Club has handcuffed herself outside the club in a desperate plea to save it from extinction.

Joy Hart, whose father Les was a Bury legend as a player, manager and trainer, made the plea to the neighbouring clubs in the Premiership to help fund the 135-year-old institution, while chained at the Gigg Lane stadium

Gigg Lane, the stadium in which Bury FC plays, is one of the oldest professional football stadiums in the world.

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Ms Hart chained by a handcuff on her left hand to a downpipe on the main stand outside Bury FC reception, said: “I feel it so strongly someone has to make a stance and get publicity for Bury FC.

“We have until Friday otherwise Bury FC, as a 135-year-old football club in the league will die and the town will die with it, and that’s not being too melodramatic,”she said.

“There’s so many big clubs out there, your Citys and Uniteds, we’ve given them so many players over the years, so many players and at the time it wasn’t a pittance, but in today’s terms it is.

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“Why cannot these clubs, even your Liverpools and Evertons and what have you, why cannot all these clubs come together put some money in to buy Bury Football Club, to keep us alive?

“We are a footballing family,please be that footballing family now and save us, please.

“There’s a hell of a lot of money in football, only at the top end, not for your likes of Bury and your Oldhams and your Rochdales and even your Boltons.”

Ms Hart, who herself was a director under a former chairman, made a direct plea to current owner Steve Dale, who bought the ailing club for £1.

She claimed Mr Dale had been offered millions of pounds for Bury, but refused to sell because he wanted “his two pounds of flesh”.

“This is a personal plea – Mr Dale, please, I have written to you, I received no reply, please, please sell the club, you can afford it, please save us, everyone will love you.”

If Mr Dale is unable to prove he can continue funding the club by Friday, Bury FC will be eliminated from League One and become a grassroots team, bringing an end to a long era.

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Kenny, a Bury fan for over 70 years, had less diplomatic words for Mr Dale.

Asked by ITV News if he had a message for the Bury FC owner, he said: “If you’re not interested in football, go somewhere else.”

“It’s sickening. I’m lost for words. Get out. Please get out.”

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Bury have had their first six games postponed by the English Football League, been removed from the EFL Cup and if they were to be eliminated from League One this Friday, it would mean the league would proceed this season with only 23 teams.

It's not the only team to have experienced financial difficulties, with Macclesfield, Morecambe, Notts County, Oldham, Oxford, Reading and Southend all failing to pay wages on time at some point last season.

Bury and neighbouring Bolton were given 12-point penalties for entering administration after the end of last season.

Bury hasn't been able to start their new campaign, whilst Bolton cancelled Tuesday’s game against Doncaster because they only had three senior players available.

This Friday could be the end of a 135-year-old footballing era for Bury. Credit: PA

In a recent interview, the EFL’s interim chair Debbie Jevans denied this was evidence the league was failing.

“I would push back against that because, depending on which measure you use, the EFL is the fifth or sixth most popular league in Europe and the Carabao Cup is watched around the world – it’s a successful league,” Ms Jevans said.

“What I would say is we are stepping back and looking at our governance. We know there is a big reliance on our owners, so we need to look at that, player wages and the overarching way we do business.”