Bury have been expelled by the English Football League (EFL) after a takeover bid by a London-based data analytics company collapsed.
The troubled League One club had been given until 5pm on Tuesday to complete the deal, after being granted an extension to Friday's initial deadline.
However, the proposed takeover from C&N Sporting Risk fell through with 90 minutes to go, and Bury subsequently became the first team to drop out of the EFL since Maidstone's liquidation in 1992. The Sun says it leaves the club “dead and Buryed”.
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BBC Radio Manchester's Mike Minay said that as the news broke, fans outside the stadium “walked away in instant tears, some crouching down to the floor”.
Debbie Jevans CBE, executive chair of the EFL, said: “Today is undoubtedly one of the darkest days in the League's recent history. The EFL has worked determinedly and tirelessly to avoid this outcome and it is with a heavy heart that this situation has been forced upon us.
“I understand this will be a deeply upsetting and devastating time for Bury's players, staff, supporters and the wider community. There is no doubt today's news will be felt across the entire football family.”
The club was already in financial peril when current owner Steve Dale bought it for £1 in December from previous owner Stewart Day. A winding-up petition was adjourned three times before eventually being dismissed by the High Court on 31 July. The club was docked 12 points when it was placed into administration.
Reacting to the expulsion, Bury North MP James Frith said: “I'm angry. My head is in my hands. I feel Bury is the victim… and those left to pick up the pieces are the town and the community.”
Sky Sports has come under fire for its coverage of the story, which saw it use a clock counting down to 5pm, similar to the one used in their coverage of transfer deadline day. The Evening Standard says Twitter users described the move as “disgraceful”, “distasteful” and a “new low” for the channel.
Meanwhile, just 13 miles away, the future of Bolton Wanderers also hangs in the balance. The club has been given 14 days to save its league membership and the process of closing it down could begin later today.
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