Bury: Financially stricken League One side have game against Gillingham suspended

Sign pitchside at Gigg Lane, home of Bury FC
Bury have had League One games against MK Dons, Accrington and now Gillingham, as well as a Carabao Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday, suspended so far in August

Bury's match against Gillingham on Saturday has been suspended by the English Football League - the fourth Shakers game to be called off.

The League One club were unable to satisfy the EFL's request to prove their financial viability by 09:00 BST.

The decision by the EFL comes a day after owner Steve Dale said he would consider a sale after a "lifeline" takeover offer was made on Monday.

Bury are also working towards a 23 August deadline to avoid EFL expulsion.

An EFL statement said: "Clarity is still required on plans to meet the club's commitments to football creditors, payment to unsecured creditors as part of the company voluntary arrangement (CVA), alongside source and sufficiency of funding for season 2019-20."

It added that a decision regarding the League One fixture against Rotherham on 20 August will be taken on Thursday, and said the EFL "remains committed to working with the club to try and find a successful conclusion".

The future of the 134-year-old club has come under serious threat this summer because of the financial turmoil.

While the Shakers won promotion from League Two last season despite their money problems, they are yet to begin life in England's third division as their opening three league fixtures, against MK Dons, Accrington and now Gillingham, have all been suspended.

Tuesday's Carabao Cup first-round tie against Sheffield Wednesday was also called off because of the crisis at Gigg Lane.

The club has got to sustain itself - Dale

Within minutes of the EFL imposing a new 15-hour deadline on Monday evening to get satisfactory evidence about how Bury will pay outstanding creditors and meet ongoing costs, Shakers staff posted a statement on the club website "imploring" Dale to sell after they reviewed an offer from an unnamed bidder.

It prompted Dale to say he would sell if the bidder was the "right fit for Bury", having previously insisted he would not consider offloading the club until financial stability had been restored.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday, Dale said: "The club has got to sustain itself. If someone comes in to buy a club, they've got to realise that there are bills with the club. The previous owner doesn't take those with them, they're theirs [the new owner's].

"So the £3.2m that's needed for the CVA needs to be met by the new owner, not me. They've got to take the responsibility of it off me.

"The things that I've paid for that the club needs to sustain itself, they need to reimburse me for what I've paid out, and for the seven months of hell that me and my family have had, they've got to make an offer for that," added Dale, who referenced protests made against himself and his children by a small minority of Bury supporters.

News of offer 'encouraging', says local MP

A potential takeover, the suspension of a fourth game and the plea from staff come after months of trouble at Gigg Lane.

Bury have already been given a 12-point deduction for the season after entering into a CVA - which is classed as an insolvency event by the EFL - to try to clear some of their debts.

A winding-up petition against them was dismissed by the High Court on 31 July, with Dale going on to claim the EFL was "working against" the club. The league's executive chair Debbie Jevans later said the EFL was "not standing in the way" of the club's survival.

While a withdrawal of membership was served by the EFL and later suspended earlier in the summer, it has now been lifted, with the club now facing expulsion if financial order cannot be restored by 23 August.

Bury North MP James Frith has said "time is ticking and running out" for the club and added that he had been given assurances that the expulsion order could again be paused.

"The latest news is encouraging but we have been here before," he told BBC Radio Manchester. "Steve Dale has already been in a court of law telling a judge that he intended to sell.

"So no more games Mr Dale, he needs to engage with the prospective new owners.

"I've had assurances from the EFL, [executive chair] Debbie Jevans herself, that there is scope to pause the clock on the expulsion order so that we don't just hurtle over a cliff edge, despite there being conversations now apparently ready to happen."