When Bury Football Club was expelled from the EFL in 2019 there was no clear way of returning football to Gigg Lane in that name. It has taken decades for many other clubs in similar circumstances to rebuild and return to their own ground. In 2022, we now have the opportunity to bring elite football back to Gigg Lane under the name Bury Football Club, which is an extraordinary achievement in such a short space of time.
In a reversal of recent history, this has been achieved by genuine football supporters, who through help, hard work and perseverance have acquired the Gigg Lane Stadium, created a successful and financially sustainable football team, and generated both the income and capital necessary to develop the club and ground for the benefit of future generations.
This seemed impossible in 2019. That this has been achieved under ‘fan ownership’ has restored dignity and self-belief to a community stripped of it in the events culminating in the EFL expulsion.
We have a shared long-term vision of restoring professional football to Bury. We know the club must be run in a financially responsible and sustainable way. We believe that the best way to achieve this is under the historic name of Bury Football Club, and by improving and enhancing Gigg Lane as the spiritual home of football in Bury.
This paper, and the process which follows, sets out what we believe is the way to achieve this. What has become absolutely apparent from the work undertaken so far is that this vision is only possible by combining what we have today into a united organisation which can give us what we need going forward.
Signed by the Gigg Lane Steering Group
The Shakers Community Society Limited board and the Bury Football Club Supporters Society Limited are recommending member approval for the following motions:
1. Adoption of the Gigg Lane Stadium as the home playing venue (‘the choice of stadium’).
2. Adoption of Bury Football Club as the playing name, subject to the approval of the Football Association. (‘the choice of name’).
3. To enable motions 1 and 2, a statutory amalgamation of Shakers Community Society Limited with Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society Limited which will see both societies (the ‘Societies’) fold and transfer their assets into a new Community Benefit Society which will maintain a majority vote on the board of The Bury Football Club Company Limited in both Bury Football Club (2019) Ltd trading as Bury AFC, the Gigg Lane Stadium, and the Intellectual Property Rights purchased with the Gigg Lane Stadium (‘the merger);
The merger, the choice of name and the choice of stadium will not complete unless the members of both Societies vote in favour of a merger.
The motion for the choice of name and the choice of stadium requires 51% approval from both Societies members.
The motion for the merger requires approval from eligible voters from both Societies, where each Society will hold two Extraordinary General Meetings, the second EGM being held between 14 days and one month after the first.
The votes will be done electronically, using a secure online system with independent oversight as part of the Extraordinary General Meeting’s called separately by each Society.
To ensure voting remains in line with the Societies rules, voters participating in the electronic vote will proxy their vote to the Chair of each meeting whilst indicating their preference for each motion.
An eligible voting member of both Societies may participate in the vote for both Societies, which will open and close for each at the same times.
The merger, the choice of name, and the choice of stadium are subject to approval by the relevant authorities, including the Financial Conduct Authority, the Leagues and the FA so the vote is to approve these matters now and enact them as soon as is reasonably possible. They cannot happen immediately.
To support the recommendation, identical information will be presented to members of both Societies. This will be issued before the end of business on Friday 8th July. There will be a consultation process from this date where questions can be asked by email during this period and, where possible, the questions will be addressed in a publicly available FAQ document. Information on how to ask questions will be included in the documentation issued.
The key documents which will be provided are an outline of the future ownership and governance model and a financial business plan with accompanying notes.
There will be a joint online meeting for members of both Societies with a representative from each board and Matt Barker, a Director of The Bury Football Club Company Limited, which owns the Gigg Lane stadium. The purpose of this meeting is to address further questions on the structure and business plan if they have not been dealt with by FAQ and provide an alternative method to communicate information to those who prefer this format.
The consultation process is expected to complete on Friday 5th August. The consultation process is an opportunity for each board to assess if the recommendation and the format of the vote remains appropriate or requires modification.
The formal 28-day notice for the EGMs will be issued after the end of the consultation process unless it is possible that it can be issued earlier. Electronic voting papers will be issued a minimum of 14 days in advance of the EGM’s, with the votes closing before, and results announced at, each EGM.
If the vote is approved, a second confirmatory motion will be issued. This will simply seek confirmation that the motions voted on should pass and again will be conducted electronically.
There are a small number of remaining confirmatory diligence items required before the merger completes, if approved. Some of these may be undertaken before the vote completes and some, such as the provision of any funding which is contingent on a merger, will be undertaken after the vote.
The exact wording used for the vote may change to satisfy the formal legal requirements for this process, and we will take legal advice on this matter.
Signed by Shakers Community Society Limited and Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society.
Statement from the Shakers Community Society Limited Board
Based on the information we have we are recommending to members that these motions are carried.
We believe that the new structure gives members and elected board members almost unfettered discretion and authority over its decision making, in the same way as the club operates at present. The decision to change or continue with current processes and practices in future sits with the members and the elected board.
All business plans contain strengths, weaknesses, risk, and unexpected opportunities. This is no different. In arriving at our conclusion, we could see that owning a stadium gives us greater long term opportunity to progress than a groundshare, something we have stated previously. In assessing the risks, we believe that this merger is a lower risk option than choosing not to merge.
Statement from Bury Football Club Supporters Society Limited
We have worked together as a group to deliver the proposed structure with all the supporting facts and figures to enable our members to make a fully informed choice.
We believe this proposal gives members a great opportunity to vote towards the future of football within the town. The proposal of the amalgamations enables the two societies and its volunteer groups to pool resources, whilst securing additional funding to ensure that Bury Football Club is built on rock-solid foundations.
Together we have a great opportunity to build a successful future for football in Bury which will become a lasting legacy and protect the future of professional football in Bury for years to come.
The proposed structure ensures that the members and their elected board have the authority to make and carry out decisions in the best interest of the supporters and the longevity of their community owned football club.