Bury Football Club default on plan to settle outstanding debts

Bury scarf
Bury were unable to fulfil a single fixture in 2019-20 prior to their expulsion from the English Football League

Fresh doubt has been cast over the future of Bury Football Club after they defaulted on a plan to help settle their outstanding debts.

Creditors approved a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal last July which would have seen the club's football creditors paid in full.

Unsecured creditors, including HMRC, were due to be paid 25% of money owed.

Bury, who were expelled from the English Football League last August, had until Tuesday to pay the CVA.

"We will be looking at taking necessary action," said Steven Wiseglass of Inquesta Corporate Recovery & Insolvency. "No further comment can be made at this stage."

The club were deducted 12 points for the insolvency event but were eventually expelled from the EFL after a proposed takeover collapsed.

Bury, who had won automatic promotion from League Two just three months previously, were the first team to drop out of the EFL since Maidstone's liquidation in 1992.

Since their expulsion by the EFL the club, who were founded in 1885, have had two winding-up petitions over unpaid tax dismissed by the High Court.

The Shakers appeared to be on the brink of liquidation after a further prospective buyer ended their interest in October, but during a previous petition the club argued they had continued to automatically pay tax on wages that were not received by staff.

Businessman Robert Benwell addressed supporters in December about his plans to "bring football back to Bury", with one of the options being to start the club again if it goes into liquidation, but it is unclear what will happen to the club next and in what form.

How the club lost their place in the EFL

Steve Dale bought Bury for £1 from previous owner Stewart Day in December 2018, but the Shakers were already in financial trouble by that point, 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.

Although the CVA had now been agreed, the EFL was not satisfied the club had given enough evidence of their financial viability, leading to a number of postponed fixtures while the organisation awaited "the clarity required".

On 9 August, the Shakers were given a 14-day deadline to provide the necessary information or face expulsion - and, although that deadline was extended, a final-hour takeover bid by C&N Sporting Risk collapsed.

Analysis

BBC Radio Manchester's Mike Minay

It is still far from clear, at this point, what exactly will happen next for Bury and the CVA supervisor Steven Wiseglass.

The biggest concern for the Shakers will surround liquidation, which can come either through Steve Dale himself or Wiseglass - and could be triggered immediately.

If that were to happen, it is would likely to take up to six weeks to go through the courts. This would spell the end of Bury Football Club.

Equally, a creditor could take their unpaid debts through the court via a winding-up petition.

One final option - which isn't beyond the realms of possibility - is that a new CVA could be negotiated with new terms.

Administration is unlikely, although it does remain an option, but the club have little to trade at the moment with no playing staff and without a league to play in.

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