THE University of Bolton Stadium fell silent on derby day, presenting a chance for reflection on the two clubs meant to do battle.

At noon the whistle should have blown on the 80th competitive meeting between traditional Lancastrian neighbours, two proud sets of fans should have been bursting into song and three precious points should have been at stake in front of the Sky TV cameras.

When the fixture was scheduled in the summer both Bolton and Bury were mired in financial trouble but there was enough gallows humour among supporters to dub the match ‘El Brassico’.

The time for joking soon subsided, and as the summer stretched on realisation dawned, not only on this enclave of the North West but on the whole of English football, that something was about to snap.

It still seems slightly surreal to note that on August 27, 2019, it was confirmed that Bury Football Club had lost its place in the EFL following the collapse of a takeover deal by C&N Sporting Risk.

And there is a pang of guilt when writing that just 24 hours later Bolton were saved from the brink by the Football Ventures consortium.

The backstory for both clubs has been laid bare by just about every media organisation on the planet. The villains of the piece are equally well-documented and in Wanderers’ case, the saviours too. Nowhere near as clear, however, is what happens next?

Football went about its business this weekend, as did the shoppers around the Middlebrook complex. But while Wanderers fans will mercifully have just one weekend to do without a matchday, their counterparts at Gigg Lane remain lost, planning for a future they cannot guarantee.

Withdrawal of membership has not been taken lightly – especially as there were claims within the club that a late £7million bid to rescue the club was not considered properly. Legal action has been threatened, although the immediate focus appears to be on preserving the Shakers in their current guise.

The EFL are being lobbied to allow the club to start up in League Two next season, as if relegated, and have been given the backing of Damian Collins MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The decision to expel Bury is a tragedy for all who follow the team as well as the wider community that it serves," said the Folkestone and Hythe MP.

“The current owners and directors test is clearly not sufficient to protect the long-term interests of clubs and keep bad owners and directors out of the game.

“The Select Committee believes that the issues that have affected Bury reflect a wider and growing problem within the Football League."

While Bury wait on the outcome, the league has pledged to undertake a comprehensive review into the regulations and procedures concerning the financial stability of its members clubs, led by leading sports lawyer Jonathan Taylor QC.

Bury supporters would be forgiven for recalling the old phrase about locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

It has not sat well among Shakers fans that the post-mortem into their demise has already begun, despite people doing their best to keep a heart beating.

On social media this week a video was posted of first team boss Paul Wilkinson – who is yet to take charge of a competitive game – hoovering the offices at Carrington to keep things tidy.

Likewise, consultancy staff like ex-Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton boss Dave Jones or general manager Scott Johnson are biding time before the league announces the result of its planned consultation with members later this month.

The EFL says its impending review will take place in two phases. The first will look at Bury’s insolvency, the owners’ and directors’ test and whether enough was done to secure the club’s long-term future. The second will examine whether enough is being done by the EFL to preserve clubs’ financial stability.

Any changes to the league’s articles of association, regulations and procedures would then have to be put to a vote in next year’s EFL general meeting.

Debbie Jevans, the executive chair of the EFL, said the review will "help everyone to understand what happened at Bury".

"The EFL recognises its responsibility to examine whether we can improve our regulations and procedures in this area.

"We want to play our part in helping to ensure a successful and prosperous future for the EFL so our clubs can contribute to their communities for many years to come."

Jevans stepped into the top role after Shaun Harvey was shunted towards the door – albeit not quickly enough for him to provide this lasting ode to outgoing Wanderers owner, Ken Anderson.

“Whilst I may not be universally popular for saying this, ultimately Ken Anderson went into that club when there was nobody else to take it forward,” he said in an interview on TalkSport.

"He has put it into a position where a lot of the debt has gone.

"The club can change hands. Obviously they have got a fight on to stay in the Championship but Bolton Wanderers will be here for many, many years to come and Ken Anderson has played a part in that history."

Such foot-in-mouth moments are perhaps by Harvey was seldom paraded as a live guest but while few of us have enjoyed what she had to say, his immediate successor Debbie Jevons has at least shown a willingness to discuss change and the problems she inherited.

It is a telling sign of modern football that there exists a WhatsApp group entitled ‘Clubs in Crisis’ comprising of representatives from Bolton, Bury, Blackpool, Coventry City and Portsmouth – who are presumably present to pass on advice from their perilous fall.

They had a special audience with the EFL chief on Thursday night to put forward their concerns – summed up by Forever Bury as an “honest exchange of views”.

She has already acknowledged deficiencies in the EFL’s current screening of new owners but questions must surely be asked of whether the league has done enough to monitor or enforce any funding commitments made at the point of sale.

Sympathy for Anderson’s one-time co-owner, Dean Holdsworth, varies on the Wanderers terraces but in May he pondered: "Did he made a commitment to the EFL? Yes, he did and that hasn't materialised.

"When the time come for reflection on what has happened, he needs to be seriously looked at for what he promised and what he's done to the club.

"He has affected so many lives in a negative way and it's not good.”

Holdsworth is known to have raised his concerns with the EFL even while he was still a registered shareholders. Likewise, the Bolton Wanderers Supporters’ Trust aimed several requests at Harvey during Anderson’s reign, without much success.

Calls have increased for an independent regulator who is able to act on red flags when they are raised and may yet be recommended in the forthcoming review.

The scramble has come too late to save the derby, one can only hope there is time left to salvage Bury, otherwise it may be some time before we see a competitive game between the two clubs again.