Author Archives: Aaron Benson

Staff turn on Steve Dale before he announces plans to sell Bury FC

Steve Dale may be about to leave Bury football club in the coming days, after announcing plans to pass the club onto a new custodian saying his role as chairman was damaging to his long-term health.

Dale will go down in history as one of football’s most divisive owners, in the same bracket as Bolton’s Ken Anderson and Blackpool’s Karl Oyston.

Yet as the Shakers third game of the season against Gillingham is set to go the way as the previous two, i.e suspension until further notice. Dale made the most incredible statement yet of his reign, saying he ready to sell the League One side to a credible buyer.

Dale statement, speaking to the BBC

“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. For an agreed consideration and them being the right fit for Bury.”

This all came after his longterm staff told the chairman to sell the club after receiving a very good offer. Putting their own jobs on the block in order to save the 134-year-old business from liquidation, something that is now a real possibility in the coming days. Despite saying via Bury’s website he wanted to sell the club before the end of last season, he said last week ‘there was still work to do’ before he bids farewell. Now though, everything has changed.

Staff Statement

‘We can confirm that today we have received an offer for the sale of Bury Football Club, one that we all at the Club believe is a very good offer.

This offer has been conveyed to Steve Dale and we are still waiting to hear from him.

This offer is the only lifeline for the future of the Club and we implore Steve Dale to accept it, as it has the full backing of all of the senior staff at Bury FC’.

The EFL’s stance towards Bury has not changed however since the news of Dale’s announcement. Unless they receive evidence that the current owner, or his successor for that matter, can pay off long term debt to football creditors, their EFL membership will be terminated. Whether the EFL, or football fans do actually believe what the chairman says is another matter.

It seems that should he eventually sell Bury, now will be the time.

Is Bury FC heading into their final full week as a professional club?

The situation is simple for League One Bury, football league resident for 134 years. Clear the debts under current owner Steve Dale or sell up and let a replacement deal with the financial crisis.

If neither occurs before the 23rd august, then the Football League will be down to 71 members. The proud town of Bury will have lost their local football club.

As the days go by it looks more likely that the Shakers will eventually hit the wall. After a takeover between Dale and his predecessor Stewart Day was not put through a fit and proper test by the EFL, only now will the real consequences for the club set in following on from mega high outgoings over several years under Day.

When Bury was promoted at Tranmere’s Prenton Park at the end of last season, the summer of supposed excitement simply never happened. A mass exodus of the squad fans saw as heroes, plus manager Ryan Lowe, the financial chaos has only gotten worse.

The situation is now so bad they haven’t even played a league game this season and their Carabao Cup first-round match this Wednesday against Sheffield Wednesday has been suspended. Matchday three this Saturday with Gillingham at home will most likely fall by the waist side too.

Bury’s deadline

The EFL has given Bury till the 23rd of August to meet outstanding financial requirements or their membership of the EFL will be suspended. Dale doesn’t even want to sell up saying there is still work to be done at Gigg Lane, despite one member of staff stating the fact he hasn’t been seen for months at the ground or anywhere near the club.

Wherever he is in the coming days, Dale is the only player in this debacle. While supporter group Forever Bury admit there are potential investors ready to takeover, this is all meaningless unless Dale comes to his senses and walk out the exit door.

Should he fail to realise just how damaging his current actions are, League One can get ready to be known as one with odd numbers.

Radcliffe Borough’s backline gives Macken cause for concern ahead of the new season

The good news for former Premier League players turned Non-League coaches Jon Macken and Frank Sinclair is that they’ve still two weeks to get their Radcliffe Boro’ side up and running for the new season.

The bad news lies with their backline and the quality of defending that lies within. Opposition Workington, who will begin their 2019/20 season a league below Boro, ran the back four ragged all afternoon.

Set pieces proved to be the place where the reds found their joy, the place where Gari Rowntree scored his first goal and won the penalty that led to their second, all inside 20 minutes. Sloppy defending by Scott Metcalfe lead to Boro’s nightmare start and left a mountain to climb from the off.

A shame for Macken’s men, their offensive play in the final third will cause trouble for any team. The pace of winger Elliot Rokka, the presence of forward Ben Wharton, plus the creative and energetic midfield of Kingsley Williams and Prince Heywood should see Boro do well over the coming months.

However, the greatest cause for concern will be the defence. The way Workington scored their fourth goal, a quick-paced move that sliced right through the Boro side, ending with Brad Hubbolo slotting past Ollie Martin with ease. Leaving the former City player banging his head on the newly installed dugout.

Tough season ahead for Radcliffe

Radcliffe was a tough nut to crack in promotion from the then Evo-Stik West league. Yet with a tougher challenge ahead in the coming season, the coaching staff were left shaking their heads at which players will start the season against South Shields. 

Workington’s manager Danny Grainger, named as a sub on the team sheet, has all good intentions of playing out of the back,  although the old-fashioned long ball style was their greatest weapon. A double from skipper Scott Allison, first a penalty then a smash and grab second had his side in complete control that was simply too big a challenge to deal with. 

This was the home sides fifth pre-season friendly in what’s turning out to be a long pre-season at the Nueven Stadium. Back-to-back home defeats with seven goals conceded – four against Workington and three against Bury last Tuesday- can do the prospective defenders including Leon Wright, Harry Winter, Lewis Lacy and Metcalfe no good. Nobody has guaranteed themselves a place in Macken’s starting eleven yet.

The old question of how much do the pre-season matches really matter could hold the Boro backline in good stead. Ahead of the game against Premier League side Leicester City this coming Tuesday, Macken and co will be hoping to avoid a cricket score, whether the Foxes field a first-team or a team of academy stars. 

Whatever the magnitude of the game, shipping four goals at home can do no team any good for confidence, pre-season or not. 

Salford City, the team who just can’t please anybody

The sun was shining brightly for Salford City on the Peninsula Stadium, the latest sports ground in the country to hold a Football League member.

Yet this is no normal club. Salford City has been far from ordinary since the class of 92’s takeover in 2014. How many other of their footballing rivals have achieved four promotions in five seasons? How many have been promoted from the National League at the first attempt?

Both are an extreme rarity, yet this is Salford. For manager Graham Alexander, a shot at League One glory looks optimistic and the recent evidence with Tranmere Rovers shows it’s highly likely.

‘Look at Tranmere in their recent seasons, Lincoln another, although they had a year in-between. Bournemouth also, one season next to bottom in League Two then five or six seasons later in the Premier League. They prove it can be done, but no one has got out the National League at the first attempt until we did’.

Where the Ammies are concerned, when one league achievement is ticked off, the expectation for another is even higher. After dropping down from League One with Scunthorpe to the National League with Salford twelve months ago, Alexander does not seem phased with the challenge that lies ahead, or more importantly, the criticism that comes to his sides way.

‘I’m not out to prove people wrong, I’d rather prove people right. For myself, the owners, the players and supporters, I’m here to do that for them’.

On the tribalism show by their opposition last season. ‘I think we noticed it early on. We drew with Leyton Orient at home then lost back to back games at Gateshead and Sutton, where the elation shown against us was surprising. It opened my eyes up a lot’.

There was also criticism when the newly acclaimed league club, who could barely attract 100 spectators before Neville and Co came in, found themselves on Sky Sports for the opening game of the season against Stevenage.

The question surrounding the constant animosity against the Ammies is a puzzling one. The club’s financial muscle is the strongest argument, although the commitment and desire shown by the ex-Man United players rival the likes of Andy Holt at Accrington Stanley. He is acclaimed to be one of the best football custodians in the EFL, so too are the owners of Salford City.

Club strikers Adam Rooney, 31 and newest signing Luke Armstrong, 23, represent the keen ambition at the Peninsula, with eyes only for the top of the League Two tree next May.

Adam Rooney

Rooney is loving life in a red shirt saying, ‘It’s brilliant, so many players come here because of the clubs ambition. Our aim is to be competing at the top of the table come to the end of the season. Winning promotion at Wembley is always a day to remember and we hope for more great memories’.

‘Towards the end of last season, we saw more kids come with their dads and grandads. We sign autographs for the youngsters, Irish fans who speak to me say they’ll definately be back again’.

Armstrong, fresh from his move from Championship side Middlesbrough, echoes his senior striker’s views.

‘It’s a really ambitious club with the intention for moving up the leagues going from strength to strength, trying to push on every time, going as high as possible and that’s great for a young player’.

Listening to Rooney and Armstrong, it’s no wonder so many players are keen to board the Salford train. Where the journey will end will most likely be a better position to where it is now.

Has Bury FC been given the final nail in their survival coffin?

10pm on Monday night and Bury fans were fearing the worse regarding the future of their club, again.

The EFL, governing body of the Shakers plus 71 other clubs including Bolton, Southend, Blackpool, Coventry and Charlton. Were unable to see enough evidence that Bury could pay off long term debts to football creditors.

Therefore, their game against MK Dons on Saturday on the opening day of the new season has been postponed. What worse is that the following weeks’ match at Lancashire rivals Accrington Stanley could go the same way

After a pre-season that saw an away win at Port Vale, Bury could soon cease to exist. They run the serious risk of being thrown out of the football league and as the domestic season returns, being left without a league to play in at all.

Club fan group Forever Bury and Bury North MP James Frith have called for owner Steve Dale to sell up quickly, due to the fact, there are rumoured investors ready to take over.

Bury up for sale

Despite Dale putting Bury up for sale, he seems unwilling to compromise and hand the keys to someone else. Even though he saw the CVA application pass through, ‘the old girl’ doesn’t seem so safe now.

The finger for all this trouble can be pointed at past and present owners, Day and Dale, plus the EFL. Why did they wait so long for evidence from Bury about their finances and shouldn’t they have done this weeks ago, perhaps even before the fixtures were released back in June?

Sadly no answers to this mess have been released from the English Football League governing body despite a statement just being release by Dale.

If a takeover fails to occur within the next few days, the consequences will be unbearable to think about for one of English football’s founders.

Bury FC’s miserable pre-season continues with the latest hurdle

When Bury owner Steve Dale’s CVA request was officially approved in court last Thursday. Wilkinson and his backroom staff thought they could plan for life back in League One.

Despite going winless in the clubs opening pre-season friendlies against Nantwich and Blackburn Rovers where a teamsheet broke the internet. The silver lining from pre-season so far is the Gigg Lane floodlights have been restored to full working order.

Despite this Bury begin life in League One already bottom despite the fact no games have been played, due to the 12 point deduction the club have been handed.

Yet now a new stumbling block has appeared in front of the clubs noses. The EFL have told the Shakers they need sufficient evidence, that outstanding debt payments can be made to creditors with the deadline in just a fortnights time.

The club could face expulsion from the EFL and therefore be unable to fulfil their 2019/20 fixtures.

The clock is ticking with regards to signing players ahead of the MK Dons match on August the 3rd, although Bury to their credit has a plan with new signings expected to be announced this weekend. Another idea is asking Premier League giants Man City, Tottenham and Wolves to loan them players for the opening games.

Most likely the year ahead could be one of pain with losses left, right and centre. Yet at least there is a club to watch and for the majority of fans, and that’s all they want to know right now.

‘Fans just want the season to start’ as Ernie Cooksey Trophy is won by Rochdale following win over Oldham Athletic

After a long summer break lasting well over two months has now come to an end. It seemed no surprise to see both Oldham Athletic and Rochdale going all guns blazing, as pre-season got into full swing. 

The forward lines, in particular, were enjoying a welcome return to the football field as the Oldham ground staff offered out a surface perfect for playing free-flowing football. While the surface retained its brilliance throughout the 90 minutes, the standard of football did not. 

The first half no doubt had the home fans believing they’d made the right choice between going to a potentially laborious friendly, or a trip to the Trafford Centre. Although the second showed why friendlies are not for everyone. Both managers Laurent Binade and Brian Barry-Murphy looked unsure of which players will make the first team cut, ahead of the new season which starts in just two weeks time. 

Looking the more prepared after their 3-1 defeat against Huddersfield Town only a few days previous, Rochdale looked the dominant side, in particular, their forward line. Stephen Dooley, Callum Camps and leading man Calvin Andrew gave the Latics defence nightmares in the opening 20 minutes with their movement. While in the midfield M.J Williams ran the game, angling passes any top-class midfielder would have been proud of. 

Oldham manager Binade had a look of horror on the touchline as his team were time and time again cut apart. Sharing an expression similar to keeper Gary Woods, so often with his arms wide open gasping at his backline as Dale mirrored a knife cutting through butter. 

Oldham respond

Though motivated by the fear of a battering, Oldham responded with a look of determination. One thing is for sure, this friendly had the attacking coaches smiling and the defensive ones worried. Particularly Rochdale’s as they play a division higher against forwarding lines much stronger to that of last seasons mid-table League Two side. 

While BBM looked rather happy with his sides start, his hoody was raised over his eyes shortly after when the Latics hit back. If Dooley was Dale’s man of the match, Latic number 10 Mohammed Maouche was the home sides equivalent. Scorer of the first goal, he gave all of Boundary Park encouragement this game could go the distance with his inspiring and creative play.

Substituted in the second half, Oldham lacked the pace of Maouche plus the lift he gave to his teammates around him. Fatigue and a lack of rhythm also played a part, this due to the number of subs made. Both teams made 16 changes between them in the second half. 

Ian Henderson, ironically one the visitors second half additions, struck a late winner showing even before August why he is still the key man at Spotland.

With fans twiddling their thumbs for three months at the weekend, these early games are met with appreciation. Yet most will now just want the season to start. Then at least each team can only make three substitutes.

Photo Credit: Rochdale AFC

‘On the fans part at least, they still have a football team to watch at 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon’ as Bury’s CVA is finally passed

Bury FC as we know it will still be in existence by the new season after the proposed CVA was approved in court.

In short, the overall result means the North-West club, who for months have had a threat of liquidation over their heads, will avoid such a consequence despite the period of poor ownership under Steve Dale and Stewart Day.

After months of confusion with serious fears that one of Britain’s oldest clubs may be sent to liquidation or administration. The club may finally be able to look the future with hope rather than fear.

Almost. Owner Steve Dale still has to sell the club and what is needed is for Dale’s time in ownership to end swiftly and new custodians to arrive and steady the ship.

In a statement released on the clubs website, Dale spoke about how he and his team have kept the League One Club alive.

Steve Dale quote

‘Today was a major day for our beloved Club, the old girl is safe. The CVA was passed so our future is secured as I said I would.

We have worked tirelessly to achieve the result today whilst taking a lot of flak, some might say our methods were questionable but we can all pass comment with hindsight, my job was to save Bury FC and that’s done, we have other hurdles but the main one is complete’.

Despite a recent article in The Guardian Newspaper stating his takeover went through without approval from the governing body the EFL. It seems Dale may have done what’s required in order to keep the League One club afloat.

What will follow in the days ahead of the new season is up in the air. Most likely is what consequences this financial mess may have on Paul Wilkinson and his new players.

A 12 point deduction on the opening points tally is almost a certainty. Therefore the club will begin their season on minus 12, the same number of points as near neighbours Bolton Wanderers.

New floodlights need to be purchased at Gigg Lane not forgetting a brand new squad. Time is running out quicker to re-construct a side, than the time Britain’s next Prime Minister has to agree on a new Brexit Deal. On the fans part at least, they still have a football team to watch at 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon.

Bury have hovered over the financial trap door for so long in recent months. Only now are they slowly creeping away from falling into extinction.

It’s a case of trailist & error for Bury FC

Nobody who follows the comedy show at Bury FC will have been surprised by Saturday’s teamsheet at non-league Nantwich Town.

The Shakers began their season with a 1-1 draw and for a period in the second half had the lead.

Nobody quite knows where this season will end for Paul Wilkinson’s side, although one thing we can all guarantee is that it won’t be short of drama.

And all the fun and games began around 2 pm on Saturday when the team sheets were handed out.

Every player listed was noted as a trialist, summing up perfectly the current situation at Gigg Lane.

Owner Steve Dale made a rare appearance at the Weaver Stadium on Saturday, spotted wearing a club coat sat next to former Cardiff City manager Dave Jone who is helping run the football side of the business.

The club is still for sale, although no take-over looks to be completed any day soon.

Jones did suggest light at the end of the tunnel though, saying ‘The club is safe, you will have a club come the start of the season. I have never lied to a supporter’.

Jordan Archer was the mystery man on the scoresheet, yet The Dabbers bounced back through Joe Mwasile.

The Shakers next friendly is a week on Wednesday against championship outfit Blackburn Rovers. The Lancashire club will no doubt provide a stern test for whoever wears the white and blue shirt.

The quantity of trialists on show next week is an interesting question and a teamsheet not to be missed.

Shrewsbury Town complete GK double after another Bury FC player walks away from Gigg Lane

Another day goes by and another player walks away from the fire that is currently engulfing Bury FC, in what has become a nightmare summer.

Goalkeeper Joe Murphy is the latest to walk out of Gigg Lane, as he moves to Shrewsbury Town this season.

What is Sam Ricketts’ side getting with the addition of Murphy?

Experience

Goalkeeper Joe Murphy started every game in last seasons promotion under Ryan Lowe, and the 37-year old will no doubt be an older and wiser head in the dressing room.

Yet despite potentially having only one or two seasons left in the locker before retirement, Murphy has already declared he wants to be number one at the New Meadow come August.

A winners mentality

Last season saw the ‘keeper win not only promotion but also named in the League Two team of the year. What more can you want from a keeper?

A point worth mentioning is the recruitment by Shrewsbury of Brian Jenson, the goalkeeping coach at the Shakers until only last week.

It looks as though Jenson may have encouraged Murphy to make the move down South. No doubt both will be hungry to achieve back to back promotions.

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