Bury’s plight strikes a chord with Southgate
Gareth Southgate’s first football match was at Gigg Lane and the England manager fears the “tragic story” of Bury’s collapse could be repeated over the coming years.
The football world was this week rocked by the news that the Shakers had been expelled from the EFL following the collapse of a takeover bid.
Bury are examining their next step having received another offer from “a credible bidder” that could offer late hope of avoiding liquidation after 134 years in existence.
Southgate lived in the town for a short while as a child and is saddened by their pleight, albeit not surprised.
“The first game I ever went to was at Gigg Lane,” the England boss said.
“I can’t say I remember too much about living up there because I was only young when we moved, five, six, seven.
“The first game I went to was Bury against Watford. Derek Spence scored the winner, so it sticks in your mind.
“I don’t think I watched much (of the game) as I was running up and down the terraces – with probably my dad clipping me round the ear to sit and watch!
“My first thoughts are with people who have lost their jobs because the human element of that is that the players at that level have much more financial difficulty than players in the leagues above, and of course with the staff.
“It’s like any other business that goes under, that’s a massive blow for the families and the human part of that.
“Of course, for the supporters, for whom the club is part of the community and a real sense of identity. It’s a tragic story.
“It worries me, and I think it could be something we see a bit more frequently. I’m not sure the game is sustainable in its spending, outside of the money that comes in from the television.
“So, that is each club’s responsibility to manage their finances and the decision-making as a club has not been the right thing.”
Bolton – a Premier League side until 2012 – avoided the same fate as Bury after administrators announced the crisis club’s sale to Football Ventures (Whites) Limited.
The two clubs are far from alone in being poorly run and Southgate was asked whether there should be tighter regulation around ownership.
“I don’t know enough about how everything operates really,” the Three Lions boss said.
“What is clear to me is that, in a 92-team pyramid – and professional teams, at non-league level as well – there are so many clubs in deficit and in debt. That can’t be sustainable, so that has to be addressed.
“I understand the desire for people to risk to progress and there’s examples where that has worked.
“I think clubs have to think seriously about their model and, again, talking about the young players coming through, that is surely the classic example where young players coming through give an opportunity to clubs to have a sustainable model and use the talent that I believe exists in our country.”