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  1. ITV Report

Crisis club Bury FC sold with two hours to spare, says owner Steve Dale

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Bury could have been given an 11th-hour reprieve after owner Steve Dale revealed he had sold the club.

Dale had been given until 23.59 on Friday to either provide proof to the English Football League he could fund the League One side this season or hand it over to someone who can.

Extinction was the option if not but, after a day of claim and counter-claim, Dale told the Press Association he had agreed a deal.

The EFL is aware of Dale's claim of a sale and is investigating as a matter of urgency.

It is understood Dale has sold the club to Rory Campbell and Henry Newman's C&N Sporting Risk..

Dale's declaration of a sale came just before 10pm, with a little over two hours remaining. Fans had gathered outside the Gigg Lane home ground as news began to spread of the potential deal.

Earlier, he had accused the English Football League of having an "agenda", telling ITV News that he did not make "this mess".

Steve Dale told ITV News the club has everything they needed to continue to play, claiming the EFL's decision is not about debt.

The 134-year-old club have until one minute to midnight on Friday to prove they can pay their debts and fund the season or find a new owner who can.

But Mr Dale claims "Bury's solvent. Bury can play football."

"We need the EFL to let us play football. I don't make them rules up. It's nothing about debt. There's no debt. It's them stating that they want to see this sensitised amount of money that they perceive the club may or may not, these are their words, need in the future," he said.

On Friday morning Dale called on fans and other interested parties to pledge a total of £2.7m to save the club.

Mr Dale, a Cheshire-based businessman, bought Bury for £1 in December after previous owner Stewart Day ran up huge debts following years of overspending at Gigg Lane.

But having initially claimed to buy the club for "philanthropic" reasons, Mr Dale put Bury into administration this summer and engineered a debt repayment scheme, known as a company voluntary arrangement, that would see creditors paid only 25 percent of what they are owed, with him and his associates being the main beneficiaries.

But he denied he was at fault, hitting back at fans who accuse him of being an "asset-stripper".

"How can you asset strip something that's bust?" he said.

"The mess has been created from the the past five years, but no one rallied against that because they were all getting lots of money, from... the money was taken from others and pumped into Bury," he told ITV News.

"And Bury were well pleased because they're getting paid crazy salaries, all the rest of it. But then there's always got to be a victim to these things. A club has got to be sustainable. It can't just keep going because some guy's robbing one guy to keep that going."

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

The fans blame Steve Dale for Bury's situation. Credit: PA

The EFL barred Bury from starting the new season after Mr Dale failed to provide evidence he has the money to pay the club's debts and ensure it is able to field a team.

In a statement, the EFL said: "The EFL Board continues to be frustrated at the lack of significant progress that has been made by Mr Dale in providing the information required. However, we will continue to work with the current ownership in an attempt to achieve a resolution ahead of the Notice of Withdrawal deadline of Friday 23 August.

"It remains in regular communication with Mr Dale but if a solution is not found by the deadline, the Board will authorise the necessary share transfer on behalf of Bury FC which shall be legally binding on all parties and result, regretfully, in the Club no longer being a member of the League."