A REVISED bid for funding to acquire Gigg Lane could become the late Christmas present all Shakers fans can get behind.

Council bosses have thrown their support behind efforts by Bury Football Supporters Society Ltd, otherwise known as Forever Bury, for financial support from the Community Ownership Fund.

The submission is understood to have followed an encouraging meeting between a senior government official, Bury North MP James Daly and Bury Council chief executive Geoff Little.

In a letter to Emran Mian, the director general of the Department of Levelling Up, council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien has signalled the authority's backing for the Forever Bury approach.

He wrote: "Bringing football back to Gigg Lane will bring a sense of pride and optimism to the town of Bury, which is much needed as we recover from Covid."

Cllr O'Brien believes that the revival of football at Gigg Lane will not only provide an economic boost, for outfits which have been former club suppliers, but the scope for wider community use of the ground cannot be under-estimated.

Plans for a 3G pitch, which can be used by a range of men's, women's and junior sides, forms the backbone of the bid, alongside a multi-use space for adult education and health facilities.

Council leaders have also acknowledged the ongoing talks between Forever Bury and Bury AFC over the possibilities of presenting a united front for the rebirth of Gigg Lane.

Cllr O'Brien added: "Now that AFC are looking for a permanent ground, this is the ideal time for the two organisations to come together.

"The council welcomes the joint discussions and will do all we can to facilitate their continuation."

But the councillor has stressed there is only a "small window of opportunity" to move forward with the acquisition proposal.

Cllr O'Brien also said: "Gigg Lane lies in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Bury and the council is convinced that the success of the bid will help tackle that deprivation as well as promote economic growth."

Cllr Tamoor Tariq, deputy council leader and Redvales ward councillor, in which Gigg Lane stands, added: "I am confident this important community facility will drive social cohesion, promote active lifestyles, provide practical facilities to support the town's health agenda, including mental health, and restore Bury's civic pride."

The announcement has come as a fans-led consortium, including US-based benefactor Peter Alexander, is still in exclusive talks with administrators over a deal which could see the turn of Bury FC in one guise or another.