OVERSHADOWED by issues at neighbouring Bolton Wanderers this summer, Bury’s precarious position was shown to be even more serious yesterday as the EFL started a countdown towards expelling them from the league.

An EFL board will meet this morning to consider their next step after Shakers owner Steve Dale failed to produce proof that the club could pay its football creditors or future bills after agreeing a CVA with its unsecured creditors last week.

The 134-year-old club are likely to hear officially today that a 14-day timer has begun, after which the league reserve the right to withdraw their ‘golden share’.

A spokesperson for the league said last night: “The EFL board will meet in the next 24 hours to consider the various matters in respect of Bury FC following the expiry of today’s deadline imposed on the club in regard to outstanding information required by the EFL.

“A further update will be issued following the conclusion of that meeting.”

Supporters’ group Forever Bury have called on the club’s owner, Steve Dale, to either sell to one of a few interested parties or supply the funding he has claimed is available.

A statement read: “The EFL has from 5pm yesterday put Bury Football Club on 14 days’ notice of withdrawal of their membership from the EFL. To prevent this occurrence the club must provide outstanding information, including the means of payment of outstanding football creditor debts and source and sufficiency of funding.

“At the adjourned CVA application meeting held on July 18, 2019, Mr Dale, Bury Football Club Chairman and owner, informed the creditors that a credit line up to £6million will be made available for the club.

“When questioned at the following shareholders meeting, Mr Steven Wiseglass, the appointed CVA Nominee, confirmed he had seen proof (of) a credit line. Based on this information Forever Bury are bound to ask, if a credit line was available to secure the passage of the CVA, why has evidence of that credit line not been sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the EFL?

“Separately; in the last week Forever Bury have been approached by two parties interested in purchasing Bury Football Club. It is known to Forever Bury that at least one of the parties has contacted Mr Dale in an attempt to establish whether the club remains for sale. At this time no response has been forthcoming.

“It is in everyone’s best interest to help provide a secure future for Bury Football Club. Therefore, Forever Bury urgently request Mr Dale to forward the EFL with the information they require and to publicly confirm whether, or not, Bury Football Club is for sale.”

Dale arrived at Gigg Lane last December with a pledge to “return to business in a more philanthropic way… and resolve the problems the club has been facing”.

His solution over the intervening months has made for difficult viewing. Brutal cuts to staff and playing budget were potentially a necessary evil, even though the net result was the decimation of a promotion-winning squad, many of whom remain unpaid by the club in several months.

At best, it can be said the whole operation was done with little thought to fans’ sensitivity.

Last week it appeared a major hurdle had been cleared. Dale proclaimed the “old girl is safe” as a CVA proposal was passed by the club’s unsecured creditors, trimming substantial debts by 75 per cent.

But a statement released by the EFL, which underlined that they are yet to be given satisfactory assurances by the club that they can pay the money outstanding to football creditors or source sufficient funding in the future, suggests his celebrations were a tad early.

As a procession of staff jumped ship to join manager Ryan Lowe at League Two Plymouth in the last few months, the EFL peppered Bury and Dale with requests for the financial information they need.

That impatient wait reached an end yesterday when the league started their stopwatch which, if it expires, could see the Shakers have their league membership withdrawn altogether. The last club to receive that ignominious exit was Aldershot in 1992.

Dale maintains that fans will “see the truth” over the coming weeks – but at the same time, the validity of his own takeover from Stewart Day has come under serious scrutiny, amid claims it was done without him passing the league’s owners and directors’ tests.

Bury were in serious financial distress when the deal was done, as large parts of Day’s Mederco property companies began to crumble, leaving £27million of debt to creditors. Its legacy to the club was a complex web of inter-company loans which remain subject to legal issues.

Dale is said to have bought the club for a pound – and was almost certainly unaware of the myriad of financial issues he would soon have to face.

“Whilst taking a lot of flak, some might say our methods were questionable, but we can all pass comment with hindsight, my job was to save Bury FC and that’s done, we have other hurdles but the main one is complete,” said Dale, after his CVA was passed.

His plan saw around £4m of the club’s non-secured creditors repaid 25 pence in the pound. That included £1m owed to HMRC and more than £2.3m to trade creditors and local businesses, according to a document issued by insolvency firm, Inquesta on June 21.

Football creditors, i.e. players, coaching staff and other clubs, must be paid in full. And as of the date of the report, they totalled nearly £1million.

The league’s concern is that they do not have enough information on where the money will come from, or whether there will be enough to see the club complete next season.

Twelve points have already been docked for the CVA – classed, like entering into administration, as an “insolvency event – to which the club is not expected to appeal.

The next punishment could be infinitely more severe, although the club would have the right to appeal or seek an extension to the 14-day period.

The EFL say they will continue to work tirelessly with the club to remedy the situation but “ultimately can only act upon information received or not received”.

EFL Debbie Jevans, executive chair, said: “This is an incredibly difficult and complex situation for all those involved, in particular the staff, players and supporters of the club.

“We fully recognise the value and importance of the club to the local community and its fans, and will continue to work proactively and diligently with the ownership, as we have done over an extended period of time to try and ensure Bury FC has a long term future as a member of the EFL.”