Bury takeover: C&N Sporting Risk 'unable to proceed' with bid for League One club
Bury are facing expulsion from the English Football League after the company attempting to buy the club, C&N Sporting Risk, said it was unable to proceed with its takeover.
The Shakers had been given until 17:00 BST on Tuesday to complete the deal.
Chris Farnell, the lawyer working to broker a deal, has said "alternative bids" have been put to the EFL and they were now "awaiting an outcome".
Bury would be the first team to drop out of the EFL since Maidstone in 1992.
"The league announced at the weekend that it was working exclusively with the club and C&N in an attempt to finalise a change of control at the club," said the EFL in a statement.
"However, following a period of due diligence, C&N have opted not to progress matters.
"The league continues to be in discussions with Bury FC and will provide a further update as appropriate."
The EFL suspended each of Bury's first six fixtures this season, requesting evidence the League One club could pay off creditors and had the funding to make it through the entire campaign.
They were initially given until 23:59 BST on Friday to either provide the required information or find a buyer to take them over.
With the third-tier side effectively an hour from being thrown out of the EFL, owner Steve Dale told BBC Radio Manchester he had sold the club and they were set to survive.
That news subsequently secured them an extension until Tuesday to complete the deal, although C&N Sporting Risk expressed concern that it was still not enough time.
An estimated 300 volunteers turned up at the club's Gigg Lane home on Tuesday to help get the ground ready for Saturday's scheduled game against Doncaster Rovers, but their efforts could prove to be in vain.
Bury have since issued a warning on their website asking fans not to enter the stadium "unless authorised" at what is a "difficult and emotional time for all supporters".
'Credible bids' remain on the table
Despite the withdrawal of C&N Sporting Risk's interest, Farnell told BBC Radio 5 live that other bids had been put to the EFL "as late as in the last hour" leading up to the deadline.
"From what I understand they appear to be credible and certainly at this stage to attract offers is the main thing that can happen," he said.
"I'm also informed that Mr Dale is aware of them as well, so we're awaiting to see the outcome of that.
"Some of the bids actually came in towards the end of last week, while there have been some new bids that have come in today too. They're not simply last-minute, shooting-at-the-moon type bids."
One of the offers is understood to be from MP Ivan Lewis, who has told BBC Radio Manchester that he has presented a plan and shown proof of funds to the EFL.
Dale, who confirmed three bids had been passed to the EFL, said he remained hopeful Bury would be given a "reprieve to help get a deal over the line".
'This decision has not been taken lightly'
C&N Sporting Risk said it had informed the EFL of its decision not to complete the takeover "at the earliest possible opportunity".
"As part of our due diligence, we set ourselves a list of key criteria regarding the CVA, the ground and the overall financial state of the club that had to be met in order for us to be satisfied that we have enough knowledge to proceed with the takeover," the company said in a statement.
"The complexities involved in each of these matters escalated and continue to do so.
"Despite previously stating we would have liked an extra 24 hours to conclude the deal, actually our position is not a condition of the strict timeline they have put in place, but reflective of the systemic failings of a football club over a number of years.
"With this in mind, we will be happy to work together with the EFL to share our findings to help them with their ongoing review of football governance, which is essential for the long term future of all members of the EFL and the broader football family."
The demise of a 134-year-old club?
Founded in 1885 and first elected to the EFL nine years later, Bury were playing in what is now known as the Championship as recently as 1999 and have twice won the FA Cup.
No club has ever dropped out of the third tier before, and the Shakers will also become the first FA Cup winners to have been expelled by the EFL.
England women's manager Phil Neville, whose mother Jill resigned as Bury's club secretary last week, described their demise as an "absolute disgrace" on Friday.
Supporters staged numerous protests in the build-up to the deadline, with former director Joy Hart handcuffing herself to a drainpipe outside their Gigg Lane home and a coffin with the words 'RIP Bury FC 1885-?' painted on it was placed at the directors' entrance.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham also wrote to EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans asking for the club to be granted more time "given the urgency of Bury's plight".
How did we reach this point?
At the end of April, Bury were celebrating promotion back to the third tier of English football, but were already enduring major issues off the pitch.
The club was in financial trouble even before Dale bought it for £1 in December from previous owner Stewart Day, with players and staff often being paid late.
A winding-up petition filed against the club was adjourned three times before eventually being dismissed by the High Court on 31 July.
By then, creditors had approved a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) put forward by Dale, which was proposed to help settle some of their debts.
The CVA meant unsecured creditors, including HM Revenue & Customs, would be paid 25% of the money owed - but also triggered a 12-point deduction in the League One table under EFL rules.
Furthermore, the EFL were unsatisfied Bury had given enough evidence of their financial viability, leading to a string of postponed fixtures while the organisation awaited "the clarity required".
C&N Sporting Risk's interest in a takeover was enough for the EFL to extend the original cut-off on Friday - but their withdrawal came less than 90 minutes before Tuesday's latest deadline.