Former Port Vale owner Norman Smurthwaite believes it is too late to save Bury because the crisis-hit club's owner Steve Dale wants at least £1million to walk away.

As revealed by The Bury Times earlier this week Smurthwaite saw an 11th-hour rescue bid knocked back.

The Shakers, who have not started the season after seeing six games suspended, have until 11.59pm tonight to satisfy the EFL that they should not be thrown out of the Football League, a move that would likely lead to liquidation for the 134-year-old club.

Dale, a Cheshire-based businessman, bought Bury for £1 in December after previous owner Stewart Day ran up huge debts following years of overspending at Gigg Lane.

He agreed a Company Voluntary Agreement this summer that would see creditors paid only 25 per cent of what they are owed.

Part of the deal means that the under-fire owner believes he is due a substantial sum, something which Smurthwaite disputes and proved a sticking point in getting any deal over the line.

Smurthwaite, who sold Port Vale in May but was known to be interested in buying another club, was alerted to a potential deal by a member of the EFL board.

The 59-year-old looked at the club's finances over the weekend and phoned Dale with his offer on Tuesday - an offer which was quickly and robustly rejected.

"The EFL knows I have the resources and experience to buy Bury and get it back on its feet,” Smurthwaite told the Press Association.

"That would require an investment of £4.5million to settle the club's debts and fund the team this season. But it would also need the lender that has a £3.6m charge on the ground to accept what the land is really worth, about £1.5m.

"If Steve Dale accepted that neither he nor any of his associates get anything from the CVA, or any other payment, then l am willing to step in. They are the two conditions of my offer."

Smurthwaite explained that Dale told him he wants at least £1million for his share of the club debt that he and his business partners control.

But even if Dale was to drop that demand, Smurthwaite thinks Bury are doomed.

"I fear it is now too late to save the club because there is simply not enough time to do this deal," he said.

"It could take three months. And if Dale finds some novice to take it on, Bury will be back in this mess next year."

Dale this morning made a desperate plea to supporters and the local business community to help him raise the £2.7 million he says is needed to placate the EFL.