Published: 00:00, 28 August 2019
| Updated: 07:16, 28 August 2019
Gillingham’s League 1 rivals Bury have been removed from the Football League.
A deal to save the club collapsed on Tuesday, ahead of a 5pm deadline for a takeover to be complete, and later that evening the EFL announced their membership was being withdrawn.
Bury - founded 134 years ago - haven’t kicked a ball this season as all of their matches had been suspended, including their home game against the Gills.
League 1 will now be reduced to 23 clubs and there will be three teams relegated at the end of the season, instead of four. The knock-on effect for League 2 will be discussed by member clubs at a meeting next month.
An EFL statement said: “Despite repeated requests to its owner Mr Dale over a sustained period of time, the necessary evidence in respect of how the club would meet its financial commitments, has simply not been provided and, as a result, attentions turned to securing new ownership at the club.”
C&N Sporting Risk had an offer accepted by Mr Dale but after due diligence they opted against taking over the Gigg Lane outfit.
“The EFL Board has unanimously determined with enormous regret that Bury’s membership be withdrawn,” the statement continued.
“The EFL Board had maintained that there could be no further suspensions to the fixture list and that these ongoing concerns and the integrity of the competition were a significant factor in the decision.
Debbie Jevans, the league’s CEO, said: “Today (Tuesday) 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.
“The EFL has to place the integrity of our competitions at the heart of every decision we make, and we simply cannot allow this unacceptable situation to continue or countenance the prospect of postponing further fixtures.”
Bolton, meanwhile, have now had the suspension of notice of withdrawal lifted, which means they have two weeks left to complete their takeover.
Earlier this week administrators said they would begin to break the company up on Wednesday (today) if no deal was completed, after their sale collapsed on Monday.
But discussions have continued and the club are hoping to reach an agreement still. They are due to play Gillingham this Saturday but that match is still in doubt.
Bolton now have until midnight on September 12 to conclude a deal or they too will be removed from the league. They are currently fielding youth players in their competitive matches but are understood to have senior players waiting to be signed once a takeover happens.
A statement issued by Bolton’s administrators on Tuesday night said: “All parties have been in continuous dialogue throughout the day (Tuesday) and are working closely together this evening in order to bring a deal to completion.”