A Bury FC fans group which is staging a protest against a proposed merger deal has defended its move to take action after the cancellation of junior football matches.

Members of Vote No Merger will march from the Bridge Tavern pub to Redbank Playing Fields tomorrow, Saturday, from 11am.

The peaceful protest comes after Bury FC Supporters Society (BFCSS) and Bury AFC’s Shaker’s Community Society Ltd announced proposals to merge in May in an effort to bring elite men’s football back to the town.

The council has pledged £450,000 of funding to Bury FC if members vote in favour of the proposed merger.

But the plans have not been welcomed by some sections of the old fanbase.

Vote No Merger has gained a sizable following on social media with more than 200 fans joining its private Facebook group since its creation in August.

David Clarke, 26, a group admin and Gigg Lane volunteer says fans are concerned that no date has been set for the vote.

He said: “I just feel that for months now, we’ve just had no voice, it’s just been continuously kicking the can down the road with the vote.

“They’re saying it will be a merger but in the plans it will be the club of AFC, the company name and company number moving over here."

But with the march due to finish at Redbank Playing Fields tomorrow, Saturday, Radcliffe FC chairman Paul Hilton announced today, Friday, that the club has called off all its junior matches.

In a lengthy statement, Mr Hilton said: “I am appalled at the decision to choose to march on Redbank Playing Fields - the home of Radcliffe Juniors, worse so on a Saturday morning when any football fan will know that children will be enjoying their sport in a safe a friendly environment and I am equally disappointed that no members of Bury football groups have taken any serious consideration into the effect this could have on our local children - Radcliffe FC's local children - who are absolutely innocent of anything connected to whatever quarrels Bury FCs fans may have."

In response, Vote No Merger said they were not aware junior matches were due to be played on the playing fields though.

They said they thought games would be diverted away from the playing fields due to an FA Cup qualifying match taking place at Radcliffe FC's nearby ground, Stainton Park, between AFC Bury and North Shields. 

A spokesman for the group said: “We fully understand Paul's (Hilton) position as he wants Radcliffe FC to look the best it possibly can and this weekend is a big weekend for him with his stadium being used to host Bury AFC's match in the FA Cup. 

“We feel he has made claims that aren't actually factual with the postponement of youth football at Red Bank Playing Fields as we were made aware that football matches had been moved away from the playing fields to facilitate the TV cameras that will be in attendance.

“This is why we chose Redbank Fields as a suitable destination to end our march.”

The spokesman added: “Now Paul has stated a decision has been made to cancel all matches on the fields, we now know it won't be a problem protesting on the fields whatsoever and encourage every no voting supporter to attend tomorrow (Saturday) and show Paul and Radcliffe FC we were never going to be a threat to young children playing their football matches.

“It is ludicrous to have been tarnished this way for organising what will be a peaceful protest. 

“We are saddened that Paul did not reach out to ourselves before releasing what we feel is an incorrect statement.

“The statement released by Paul on behalf of Radcliffe FC is additional evidence of what true Bury FC supporters who haven't been watching football since July 2019 are up against.

“We need to stand up for these supporters and what we believe in.”

After assembling at 11am, the march will start officially at 11.15am, from the Bridge Tavern and make its way to Redbank Playing Fields.