Quote - Daniel Bowerbank
BFCSS Chairman Resigns
I was appointed as Chairman of the Bury Football Club Supporters Society back in August 2022. The society, without any support from any other party, has kept the community asset that is Gigg Lane afloat. I oversaw four months of planning, to conducting a successful Gigg Cleanup and over 2,000 volunteers; which is many more than some clubs who have teams achieve! I am proud of every single person who has donated their time to save Gigg Lane! I cannot thank every single person enough, from those who doubted, those who abused, those who actually shared the vision (wasn't many), the late nights, the history, the memories will last a lifetime!
Four years ago, with the sad demise of the club under Day and Dale, we were tasked as Bury Supporters and a Trust to look at how we could save Bury FC, with new owners. Without fail, every stone was left unturned. Following the meeting at the Town Hall, members voted to try and save as much of Bury FC as possible around the lumbering debts that it has accrued under the ownership of non-Bury supporters. A conclusion was reached to try and unify a fanbase with our home, its history and bring Bury FC back home.
As part of the buying process between Est 1885, Bury FC Benefactors and Forever Bury (BFCSS), I was asked by benefactors and the society to look to take on the role of Director of Bury Football Club Company Limited (formally Gigg Lane Stadium Limited).
During the past 14 months we have held:
️ 309 games
️ 60,000+ audience
️ 1,000+ Kids games / soccer camps
️ 2 Prime Minister visits
️ Managed & ran by Volunteers
️ 5 figure amounts raised for charities
The Conservative government, backed by local MP James Daly, has been influential in all of this process, and will continue to be going forward. Labour to outline with false information of giving funding, have backed saving Gigg is another local MPs bombardment of false information, even recently with his letter! Back James Daly MP and this ground will only continue to improve with some additional funding and be the heartbeat of the community!
Throughout the full process, we have as a Board tried to alert our own members and the true Shakers Community who haven't watched any other team since the demise back in 2019, but have constantly been stopped, because its against certain agendas. Crazy times!
The ‘collateral damage’, which is what the initial No voters on both sides were classed as, equated to 50% of the AFC season ticket holders, yet were dismissed when questioned!
The community events we have held at the stadium include a record-breaking capacity crowd of 3,500 for the Funfair and Fireworks, which was a superb event and something every single volunteer and community can be proud of!
To see the Bury FC Women lift the league title at Gigg Lane in front of a record crowd of 665 was fantastic! Our livelihood, The Albion, has been emblazoned on their training kits and has been brilliant to see! They have an agreement in place to continue to play at the stadium, along with discussions that have taken place to keep them playing games at the home of football in Bury!
During the process we have had benefactors outlining their wish for the group to be mothballed and put back into administration and receive their funds donated should a no vote happen! These have been confirmed, with letters of intent and proof of funding that they would come on board once a no vote was completed (this was to ensure the ground wasn't put into administration, and served no other purpose). That funding is still relevant to this date, and we have held meetings with current benefactors to outline their position! The current benefactors are people who claim to be Bury FC supporters but want to allow another team to walk in with no concessions, to get the money and funding they require. They haven't parted with anything since the acquisition, despite numerous conversations they would support the works programmes until the vote concluded! It's not only frustrating for the society with 20 years of history, the original Bury FC Supporters Trust to now be forced into a position due to the outlined above!
The superb support of the not only local community businesses, but Shakers businesses from around the UK who have donated not only time, but products and effort too in ensuring a stadium was back open and useable; even though we were told its derelict, not fit for purpose and even the council paying towards a survey on the ground.
A huge shout-out to the volunteers who have both been involved and led the refurbishment programme to get it into its vital usable state as it is today!
During the process not only myself but many others, including former Directors of the society, have been targeted and abused across networks which has been condoned by one party only and others who are well known behind fake accounts continue to create a divide! One of the agencies no longer involved took the time to call me and question the society because we allowed our members to have a voice, during this call I was called thick and the society incompetent as it has to happen on their chosen terms! Recently the lies, threats and devious nature of this vote could be put into jeopardy due to the nature of certain individuals. This person also stated they would not support any application (even though noted in one of our meetings, they would support and respect the outcome of the vote) and with their contacts will make sure that any applications would be declined because of their contacts within the game!
The claims of AFC walking in, isn't entirely accurate as they are giving a different company their registration, they haven't got anything else to offer apart from 3 contracted players, a management team and some commercial agreements all that can be revisited depending on the vote outcome by the interim board.
The divide across the situation needs to be resolved, otherwise any games at Gigg Lane will result in in-fighting which has already been happening around the town. A simple clean slate removing anyone from both sides on a new board would clean everything up but despite very positive talks, these are now not being followed through as certain people aren't happy if this happens! A very odd comment despite us wanting to unite a broken fanbase.
The business case we had was based on a current NWC Club, their budgets, their costs, the companies set up to follow the application once the initial no vote was also based on another club not too far away. This was also reviewed by many other clubs throughout the non-league system, finance directors and experienced personnel with huge respect throughout the footballing pyramid. The email received from the NWC Chairman stated that they have to look after their current teams within their leagues and how would this affect their attendances and them, with their preference being a merger to prevent any issues. Additionally, they don’t want another team in Bury, yet in other towns there are plenty of examples given to showcase there are many, and even recently Wythenshaw now have 2 teams within the NWC next season. This was then challenged and referred to the FA.
Use your VOTE today and ensure you have a say on the next steps of Gigg Lane. If you’re still unsure, I advise you to read all the paperwork and publications prior to this coming Fridays AGM, in which the next steps will be confirmed! You have no alternative than to vote yes, this is a ratification vote and what should have been outlined in the first vote, with such a decision!
As of today, I resign from my position of Chairman of Bury Football Club Supporters Society with immediate effect. After 12 years of being on the Board, working with many different Directors, I wish to thank every single person who has been there for the Society, worked with the Society, given discounts previously to the members and also those who have donated time and effort supporting events, and the members. Without members the Society doesn't run or function.
I wish nothing but luck for the next steps, but I feel I have done and succeeded with what was asked and needed to bring hope back to the community, through games on the pitch, bringing a stadium back to life and now I will take time out away from football to concentrate on my own businesses that have suffered due to the time spent on this.
The team left at the stadium are absolutely capable on all fronts to continue to improve and continue to keep a community asset as a focal point for the townsfolk and local businesses! I will continue to support these people using my experiences and expertise should they be required.