BURY FC’s supporters’ trust is bidding to protect the JD Stadium’s status as a major soccer venue for current and future generations.
Forever Bury has applied to the local authority to have the home of the Shakers registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
Fans are being urged to express their support for the move, which the trust hopes will minimise the chances of the club moving from Gigg Lane to another location. Following several meetings with Bury FC chief executive Glenn Thomas, Forever Bury has slightly altered its application so as not to include the social club, shop and buildings fronting on to Gigg Lane.
Forever Bury stress that the listing of the stadium as a ‘community asset’ by the council would mean that should its current or future owner want to sell it, the Bury FC fan community would have the opportunity to bid for it.
The trust says that the main benefits of securing the listing are: n Reducing the chance that, without prior notice to the council and community, Bury Football Club could move to another location.
- Protecting the stadium’s use as the venue for Bury Football Club for current and future generations.
- Ensuring it continues as a site for delivering social benefit and community value, through the continued hosting of Bury Football Club matches and the associated community activities Bury FC undertakes.
If ACV registration is secured, it means should the owners want to sell the asset, they will be required to notify the council and the Forever Bury trust who will have six weeks to lodge a non-binding expression of interest. A window of a further four and a half months will then come into effect to delay the sale.
The full moratorium period exists to afford community interest groups sufficient time to prepare and raise money to bid for the property, potentially in competition with other interested parties.
Forever Bury media-PR director Daniel Bowerbank said: “The fear of any football fan is that the club they have supported all their life is suddenly moved to another location. It has happened at Wimbledon and more recently at Coventry City. Such decisions give negligible regard to how they affect the lifeblood of the club — its fans.
“There are many grounds that are now under an ACV from supporters’ trusts such as Old Trafford, Anfield, Kassam Stadium and King Power Stadium.
“The Forever Bury board would like to make it clear that our application would have been submitted regardless of who the current owners of the stadium were, and the change of stadium ownership and the recent takeover of Bury FC made no bearing on the decision.
“We have no reason to believe that the new board of directors has plans to sell the stadium or club. However, one day that time may come.”
Mr Thomas told the Bury Times: “As a club we appreciate the work that Forever Bury and their members carry out in representing Bury FC. We keep them up-to-date at all times and we hope we will be in a position to update our shareholders at the annual general meeting.
“Once we have carried out this process we will gladly discuss openly with our fan base the changes we would like to implement at the ground.”