Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There Will Be Plenty More Burys Unless the EFL Take Closer Look at Club Finances

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There Will Be Plenty More Burys Unless the EFL Take Closer Look at Club Finances

Article excerpt

Byline: JamesOlley @JamesOlley

BURY FC was formed in 1885 after meetings held between two local church teams in nearby pubs. It ends as an asset-stripped shell, crippled by debt and mortgaged off to a company based in Malta via several others in the Virgin Islands.

This sad journey encapsulates the corrosive slide from community to capitalism as the driving force in modern football, a shift to which the game's authorities acquiesced by allowing the clubs to call the shots.

The Premier League are guilty of this, too, but the billions poured in from TV companies increases the margin for error, only enhancing the feel of a promised land EFL sides aspire to join.

Some harbour genuine, well-structured ambition. Some overspend with good intentions. And some, such as Bury and Bolton, are placed in jeopardy by reckless financial mismanagement and a disgusting desire to profit personally from long-standing localised loyalty.

Bury's collapse comes in the midst of internal paralysis within the EFL over changes to the "fit and proper person" owners and directors test. Alterations to expand beyond an entry-level criminal convictions check were agreed in principle last summer but, surprise surprise, the clubs cannot agree on exactly what the new rules will look like.

They should not be allowed to. The EFL insist that good governance is the norm within the 72 clubs under their banner but if anything can be gleaned from Bury's demise, it is that there is sufficient malpractice to conclude the current extent of self-regulation does not work.

It would go too far to suggest the EFL should micromanage the finances of each club but a more robust proof of funds test would be a logical starting point. How can it be permitted for a loan to be taken out, secured against a club's assets, with an annual interest rate of 138 per cent? …

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