MP slams review of Bury expulsion from EFL as 'complete whitewash'
‘The final insult to fans’: MP slams EFL review of Bury’s expulsion from League One after it concluded the competition could not have done any more to rescue the stricken club
- Bury were kicked out of League One after financial woes in August last year
- The Shakers’ owner Steve Dale failed to provide financial guarantees to the EFL
- The league was heavily criticised for not doing enough to prevent the situation
- Sports lawyer’s report said no ‘additional action’ from EFL would have changed it
- Damian Collins MP has slammed the report, calling it insulting to Bury fans
An EFL review which found the competition could not have rescued Bury has been branded a ‘complete whitewash’ by a senior politician.
Damian Collins MP, until recently chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, also described the QC-led probe as ‘inadequate’ and added that it was ‘the final insult’ for the club’s supporters who have been ‘let down every step of the way’.
The EFL also asked Jonathan Taylor QC to review its own financial regulations and procedures.
Bury were kicked out of League One in August last year after struggling with finances
And in what may well be seen as a major victory for the leading second-tier outfits, it was recommended that future television and major commercial deals should require the support of a majority of Championship clubs.
There had been anger amongst some at the previous £595m, five-year Sky deal signed by previous chief executive Shaun Harvey, with a group of 19 clubs signing a stinging letter insisting they were ‘gravely concerned’ at the decision, which was agreed by the EFL board following a recommendation from the commercial committee, which was made up of three representatives of Championship clubs and one of Leagues One and Two.
Should the change be adopted, any such deal will need the backing of a majority of the Championship clubs and of all EFL clubs rather than simply the EFL board.
Fans mourned the club’s exit from the league, but there has been a push for change since
Jonathan Taylor QC carried out both probes which the EFL described as ‘independent’ and vowed that it would ‘consider the lessons to be learned’ from Bury’s plight.
It would appear, however, that there are not many. In a summary of findings released on Thursday, an EFL statement read: ‘After considering the steps taken by the EFL at each stage, Mr Taylor concludes that the League spent significant time and effort monitoring the situation at Bury and applying its regulations to try to force the club and its owners to meet their commitments.
‘He notes that while it can always be argued, with the benefit of hindsight, that more could have been done, any additional action would not have made any difference to the eventual outcome, which was ultimately caused by a lack of owner funding.’
That conclusion is unlikely to go down well with supporters. There remains a feeling among fans that the competition could have done more to try and stop the club going out of business.
Bury fans feel the competition could have done much more to help save their historic club
Some point to the fact that owner Steve Dale was able to take over the club without displaying proof of funds as evidence of the EFL’s culpability.
Mr Collins ordered those involved to a parliamentary hearing on the matter last year. The DCMS committee subsequently concluded that the EFL’s ‘failure to enforce its own rules and regulations both prior to and following Mr Dale’s takeover of the club contributed to the problems that ultimately led to Bury’s expulsion.’
It added that the EFL ‘had multiple opportunities to intervene but did not do so’ and said the competition had ‘failed in its duty to Bury and its supporters’.
Following the release of the summary of the review, which comes to a different conclusion, Mr Collins again hit out. ‘Sadly, it does not surprise me,’ he told Sportsmail.
‘It looks like a complete whitewash and was clearly set up by the EFL to serve its own purposes. Bury’s supporters have been let down every step of the way and this is the final insult.
I don’t think anyone believes that this was a fair review.’ In an earlier post on social media Mr Collins said that the EFL statement ‘highlights how inadequate these reviews are’. ‘It suggests they did all they could to save Bury but this was an avoidable tragedy,’ he added.
The governance review recommended a number of changes and received ‘principle support from clubs’. The report also called for three new independent directors to be appointed to the EFL board, but this was rejected.
A publication of the reports in full is expected next month.
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