Leaders at two fan-led football groups in Bury have urged fans to vote in favour of a merger which could bring professional men’s football back to the town.

Board members at Bury FC Supporters Society (BFCSS) and Bury AFC’s Shaker’s Community Society has been encouraging fans to approve an amalgamation between the two societies before polling closes this week.

The referendum is the second attempt that the groups have made to amalgamate as part of an ongoing effort to restore professional men’s football to Gigg Lane, the former home of Bury FC.

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An initial vote, which took place last October, saw the merger rejected after the members failed to reach the two thirds majority needed to pass the proposals.

If successful, the merger will see a new club formed under the name Bury FC as well the creation of an interim board made up of nominated individuals from both BFCSS and Shaker’s Community Society.

The result of the vote is set to be announced on Friday night.

BFCSS vice chair and chairman of The Bury Football Club Ltd, Alistair Rowe, said a vote in favour of the merger is the best chance of restoring football to Bury.

He said: “Sixty-three per cent wanted to merge last time, so there is a mandate there to go ahead for a second vote which is why we’ve gone ahead with it.

“The funding is irrefutable, the amount of funding that’s available, and quite honestly people in Bury deserve the right to have football back at Gigg Lane.

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"One team unified is the best chance of success going forward.”

Senior club figures from past and present have spoken out in favour of the vote, including former Chairman Terry Robinson, who led the board from 1980 for close to 20 years.

In a statement issued last month, he said that "mistakes" had been made by both sides but now is the time for "both groups to get behind a reborn Bury FC".

He added: “The downside of a no vote is the real threat of losing Gigg Lane, no Bury supporter can let that happen and have to explain to the next generations we voted to lose Gigg Lane.

“I have sympathy with the people who have strong feelings and loyalty to the original club but now is the time to consider a new Bury FC on its own ground with the history of the old club as part of its DNA.”

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Shakers’ Community Society members have also been urged to have their say.

The results of last year’s merger vote saw 94 per cent of members voting in favour of the proposals.

Shaker’s Community Society chair, Phil Young said a strong "yes" vote will show potential investors that there is a unified football community in Bury.

He said: “We have confidence it will go through this time.

“Our mission right from the very start was to restore professional football to Bury.

“Fundamentally, those who are interested in watching football at Gigg Lane are very happy with the way we are going about things.

“We hope we can draw people in build [the club] from the bottom up.”

“We have an obligation to make sure this is a football club that is part of the community.”