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23 Aug, 2019 17:38

Handcuffs, coffins and $3.3m: English football team in last-minute bid to avoid extinction

Handcuffs, coffins and $3.3m: English football team in last-minute bid to avoid extinction

Bury FC's owner has asked for public assistance in saving the club from extinction and hopes to raise more than $3 million by midnight on Friday to prevent the 134-year-old club from expulsion from the English Football League.

Steve Dale, owner of Bury FC, has appealed to local businesses to help save the club as the clock ticks ever-closer to a midnight deadline to pay off creditors and to prove to league authorities that they have the necessary funds in place to complete the football season. 

The League One side have already had the first six games of their season suspended owing to their financial woes.

"We've gone to the public and we've said: 'If you want to save a football club, make a pledge to the club - not me'" Dale told the BBC. 

"Once we're up to the amount the EFL says we need with projections, we can go back to them and say it's nothing to do with me, there's £2m ($2.4m), £3m ($3.6m), whatever it is, from genuine people who'll pledge to the club."

EFL authorities have confirmed that an extension on the deadline is possible if the club can show evidence of serious interest from a third party in purchasing the club, or acting as a guarantor on their debts. 

Several people associated with the club, including ex-director Joy Hart (daughter of club legend Les Hart) have vented their frustration at the handling of the club.

Hart handcuffed herself to the club's Gigg Lane stadium, while a coffin reading 'RIP Bury FC, 1885 - ?' was also left outside the ground.

"The clock is ticking, there's no question," said EFL chief executive Debbie Jevans . "Nobody wants to see this club disappear out of the league, least of all me, which is why we are working 24/7 to try to stop that happening."

"However, the board will continue to work tirelessly to achieve a solution, whether by the current ownership providing the required outstanding financial information, or by a change of control being completed with new owners meeting the EFL's requirements," a statement released by the EFL on Friday read.

Bury were promoted to League One following a successful League Two campaign last season but the club's success on the field was contrasted by financial failures off of it. Players and staff were regularly paid late and a winding-up order was filed before it was dismissed as Bury attempted to secure further funding for the club.

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Bury has stated that there are four separate parties interested in buying the club. If a takeover isn't completed in time, Bury would likely be expelled from the division and invited to re-apply for league competition further down the football pyramid. 

Should Bury's worst fears be confirmed, it will be the first time in 27 years that an EFL club has been unable to complete a season.