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Why Plymouth Argyle should not benefit from Bury's demise

Monday 3rd June 2019
Bury's future hangs in the balance and the vultures are circling.
Bury's future hangs in the balance and the vultures are circling.

There is something uncouth and insensitive about fans of the super-rich clubs boasting about which world stars they are going to sign with their bottomless pit of money.  Especially when there are clubs in the Football League who find themselves on the brink of oblivion.

Like going into an orphanage and extolling the virtues of your dad’s new convertible, it is something that anyone with an iota of self-awareness would not do.

But in a way it is understandable; who wouldn’t want the best players in the world to wear their club’s colours? 

Money has a funny way of making us loose-lipped, boastful almost.

We all have that one mate who has a few beers and starts talking about his salary while everyone else stares awkwardly into their pints.

The fans who brag about their club’s riches do so from a palatial mezzanine which hangs over the heaving slums of the Football League below. 

Down there everything is grubbier, everyone is looking up at the promised land of the mega-rich.

One day, they hope, they will be able to remove their dusty boots and slide their blistered and calloused feet into the warm slippers provided at the door to the Premier League.

It is another world entirely, as the North to the government.  It is of little consequence to many fans of the top clubs that Bolton’s staff are being forced to use food banks or that Coventry City is on the brink of financial ruin.

The chasm is too big, the misery of the other 72 clubs and the hundreds more in non-league, is simply too far away to see.

Bury is another club whose future is in the balance.  It is an all-too-familiar story of unpaid wages, winding up petitions and unfit owners.

Steve Dale, the man who took over at Bury in December of last year, was so negligent that he failed to fully investigate the extent of the Shakers’ financial trouble before buying them.

A recording of a phone conversation (below) involving Steve 'Grizzly Bear' Dale revealed his contempt for Bury supporters and in turn justified their hatred of him.

He is not solely to blame.  The tenure of the previous owner Stewart Day played a large part in creating the club’s current difficulties.

In a remarkable statement, the Bury players implored Dale to leave the club saying: ‘Mr Chairman, we know you have no regard or consideration for us as players but please just walk away from our club before you bring it to its knees.’

Whether Bury’s frantic search for someone to try and save them will be successful remains to be seen.

If the club does go out of business it could be to the benefit of Plymouth Argyle.

Amid financial chaos, Ryan Lowe somehow managed to guide Bury to promotion from League Two last season. Argyle, who found themselves in similarly dire straits back in 2008, went the other way; relegated on the final day despite victory over Scunthorpe

Bury’s dissolution could mean that Argyle is reinstated to League One.

Lowe finds himself in the eye of the storm.  A Bury legend as both player and now a manager he has been heavily and tediously linked with the vacant managerial position at Home Park.

It is a difficult situation for him and a sad one for football, but some Argyle fans are seemingly delighted about their potential relegation reprieve...

What makes this kind of outlook so completely baffling is that Argyle almost ceased to exist less than a decade ago; you would have thought a degree of empathy would prevail.

But in this win at all costs culture the happiness of an entire group of football fans is of little consequence to some.

The people who would stamp on Bury’s bloated corpse on their way to taking their place back in League One are the type of people that make football such a murky place.

There are those with a conscience, though and thankfully they are in the majority. They are the ones who realise that the death of a football club is not an equal trade-off for a place in the third tier of English football.

As fans of a club outside the exclusive Premier League fraternity they understand how tenuous our very existence is.  They view the Bury situation not as an opportunity to advance but as a damning indictment on the state of the game.

Yet some Argyle fans are sitting shamelessly around the deathbed, as Bury heaves its final withering breaths, hoping to get their grubby paws on the inheritance.

This is not the grotesque mansion of the filthy rich, it is the poorly-lit, squeaky-hinged saloon where fans of proper football clubs go to drink and moan about the Premier League-induced death of football.

If Bury does go out of business I would like to see Argyle, who was deservedly relegated, refuse to take their place in League One as a matter of principal.

Hopefully, though it won’t come to that...

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Dan Whelan

Dan is currently working as a columnist for Plymouth Argyle's award-winning programme, The Pilgrim.  He covers a variety of footballing topics but specifically enjoys writing about the inner-workings of the football fan.

He does this by drawing on his experiences following Argyle and his observations of the behaviour of supporters in both their natural environment (the terraces) and their technological playground (Twitter).


Total articles: 43

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