Hopes to bring professional football back to Gigg Lane have taken a major step forward tonight, Friday.

Members of Bury FC Supporters Society (BFCSS) and Bury AFC’s Shaker’s Community Society have voted overwhelmingly in favour of merging together.

The referendum was the second attempt that the groups made to amalgamate as part of an ongoing effort to restore professional men’s football to Gigg Lane, the former home of Bury FC following the expulsion of the historic club from the English Football League in 2019 after ongoing financial issues.

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.

But now the combined vote from the two groups has passed that threshold.

BFCSS members voted 90 per cent in favour, while Shakers' representatives votes were more that 90 per cent in agreement with the proposals.

The amalgamation will now see a new club formed under the name of Bury FC as well as the creation of an interim board made up of nominated individuals from both BFCSS and Shakers.

A BFCSS statement said: "Bury Football Club Supporters Society would like to thank all fans who voted on the future of your club.

"A fan owned club is nothing without its loyal fans, you are all valued and have a part to play.

"Votes in favour are 952 (90.1 per cent) and votes against the resolution are 105 (9.9 per cent).

"During the special general meeting and the voting process the independent company Mi Voice have ensured compliance, counted, ratified all eligible votes and verified the result.

"The outcome of the vote is that the required threshold of 66.6 per cent has been achieved, the resolution has therefore passed.

"What we are building today, is for those who will look back, be proud of the work we as volunteers have put into establishing this club as a shining example of a sustainable fan owned football club.

"We would ask every person to now look to themselves as to how best you can support Bury Football Club.

"The future of your club is in your hands, join us, become members and be a part of the future.

"Do not walk away, come back to be part of the future of Bury FC, we are the Shakers."

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A Shaker’s Community Society spokesperson added: "The motion to adopt Gigg Lane as the football club’s home playing venue was approved by 97 per cent of the vote. 1116 were in favour, 34 against and nine abstentions.

"The motion to adopt Bury Football Club as the playing name was approved by 92 per cent of the vote. 1046 were in favour, 95 against and 24 abstentions.

"The resolution that the society and Bury Football Club Supporters’ Society Limited shall be amalgamated pursuant to section 109 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 was approved by 97 per cent of the vote. 1,109 were in favour, 35 against and 15 abstentions.

"As the Bury Football Supporters’ Society also approved their motion to amalgamate with a 90 per cent majority we are pleased to confirm that the amalgamation will proceed subject to the confirmatory vote which will now begin and the results announced at the next general meeting at 7pm on May 19."

The council has warmly welcomed the result of the vote will provide £450,000 to help with the new group's plans.

In a joint statement, council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien and cabinet member for culture and the economy, Cllr Charlotte Morris, said: “This a tremendous result for football, for unity and for the whole community.

“Bringing elite men’s football back to its spiritual home at Gigg Lane has been a dream of many thousands of sports fans across the borough.

“The dream can now become a reality.

“Bringing together the football fanbase in Bury, united behind one team, was always going to be the most sensible and sustainable way forward to guarantee the future of the stadium as a footballing venue and a community asset.

“It has taken a lot of hard work from a lot of people to get to this point, and we would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this journey.

“From the outset, we made it clear that the council would provide £450,000 towards the community stadium proposals, conditional upon a merger and a viable business case in support of Gigg Lane.

“We are delighted that Bury football fans have got firmly behind the plans for this new future.

“We look forward to working closely with the new club to maximise the benefits to the local community and deliver a one club, fan run, community-led future for Bury FC, which will also have considerable benefits for the local economy.”