The English Football League needs to learn lessons and make changes in the wake of Bury’s expulsion, says EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans.
However, Jevans insisted that the EFL did all it could to save the League One club – the first to drop out of the league since Maidstone’s liquidation in 1992.
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC sports editor Dan Roan, Jevans said:
- Clubs should consider salary caps
- The EFL needs to assess the owners and directors test
- The Premier League should not bail out EFL clubs
“Do we need to sit back, consider at what’s gone on and learn lessons from it? I completely agree,” Jevans said.
‘Player wages need looking at’
Financially stricken Bury lost their place in the EFL late on Tuesday after a proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk had fallen through earlier in the day.
Asked whether salary caps would help clubs from falling into financial trouble, Jevans added: “Player wages do need to be considered, without question.
“If your revenue is X amount and your outgoings are X-plus, clearly in the long term that is not going to be sustainable.
“Salary caps are something I absolutely want clubs to consider. We need to think and look at that and I will ask the clubs to consider it.
“Ultimately it is their decision and I respect that. All I am saying is that is we must look at that.”
- Bury expelled from EFL: ‘Dark day for English football’ says Sports Minister Nigel Adams
- Bolton Wanderers staff told plans for immediate close on hold
- How Shakers went from promotion to league exit in four months
- Phil Neville says Bury’s heart has been ‘ripped out”
‘More power needed to ban ‘bad’ owners’
Bury were already in financial trouble when Steve Dale bought them for £1 in December from previous owner Stewart Day, with players and staff often being paid late.
A winding-up petition filed against the club was adjourned three times before eventually being dismissed by the High Court on 31 July.
By then, creditors had approved a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) put forward by Dale, which was proposed to help settle some of their debts.
The CVA meant unsecured creditors, including HM Revenue & Customs, would be paid 25% of the money owed – but also triggered a 12-point deduction in the League One table under EFL rules.
Furthermore, the EFL was unsatisfied Bury had given enough evidence of their financial viability, leading to a string of postponed fixtures while the organisation awaited “the clarity required”.
On 9 August, the Shakers were given a 14-day deadline to provide the necessary information or face expulsion. That deadline expired at 23:59 BST on Friday.
With the third-tier side effectively an hour from being thrown out of the EFL, Dale told BBC Radio Manchester he had sold the club and they were set to survive.
That secured them an extension until Tuesday to complete the deal, but the Shakers’ 125-year stay in the league ended at 23:00 BST on Tuesday, six hours after Dale missed a final deadline to provide the EFL with assurances he could fund the club or had sold it to someone who could.
Asked if she would like to see more power to ban ‘bad’ owners from running clubs in the future, Jevans added: “I would like to look at the regulations to ensure that if there was a situation such as this, when someone has owned a club which has been forced to have its share withdrawn, we need to look at that – and that needs to be a part of how we assess the owners and directors test going forward.”
‘We have a duty of care to the other 23 clubs’
Jevans said she was “devastated” at Bury’s expulsion but defended the decision to take the action despite a flurry of late bidders who emerged after Tuesday’s 17:00 BST deadline.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to think that this was one board meeting that was convened that made that decision – the board has met 10 times over the past weeks to discuss the Bury situation,” she said.
“At what point in any situation do you say ‘enough’?
“We’ve already postponed Bury’s first five [league] games and each of those impacts other teams. Do we postpone six, seven, eight, nine – at what point do you stop?
“We have duty of care to the 23 other clubs in League One and equally to all of the clubs in the Championship and League Two.”
Jevans said it was down to individual clubs to be run in a “sustainable manner” and rejected the idea that wealthier clubs in the Premier League should come to the aid of financially stricken smaller clubs.
“The way that the club [Bury] was run was not correct,” she said.
However, MP Ivan Lewis said on Wednesday that the EFL had been given “every reason to review and overturn the decision” to expel Bury.
Speaking on BBC Radio Manchester, the Bury South MP added: “Steve Dale has agreed to sell the club and the relevant consortium has demonstrated to the English Football League that they have the necessary funds – not tomorrow, not next week, not maybe later – in the bank now.
“The discussions with this consortium took place before 5pm on Tuesday. The consortium has now given evidence of the funds.”