Bury and Bolton Wanderers crisis: What next for the EFL?


Bury failed to start life in League One after being promoted from England’s fourth tier last season

Bury expelled one day, Bolton Wanderers battling to avoid extinction the next.

Major financial problems have wrecked one club, left fans of both devastated and sent communities reeling. Football in England is left to deal with its highest-profile autopsy in a generation.

“We need to learn some lessons,” said English Football League executive chair Debbie Jevans just hours after Bury were kicked out League One.

Sports Minister Nigel Adams says it is “right they closely review the processes at Bury”, which culminated in “a very dark day for English football”.

Damian Collins, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, said they will discuss how to “review the role of the football authorities in this crisis”.

To find out what might actually happen next, BBC Sport spoke to a national fans’ organisation and a leading football finance expert, who described the issues at Bury and Bolton as just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Is an inquest needed?

Bury, who were expelled from the Football League on Tuesday, and Bolton, who were saved from liquidation less than 24 hours later, have endured difficult times in recent years.

Last December, Steve Dale purchased Bury for just £1 from Stewart Day, who left the club with debts which contributed to interested bidders C&N saying they pulled out of a last-ditch takeover because of “insurmountable” financial challenges.

Under the cloud of financial troubles last season, Bury went on to secure a remarkable promotion to the third tier – despite players frequently being paid late and the Professional Footballers’ Association having to step in to provide assistance.

Bolton, meanwhile, had been in administration since May and have found themselves in court at least once a year since 2015.

In 2017, a company which owned more than a third of shares in the club was wound up – and that was after former owner Ken Anderson had reportedly been paid £525,000 in consultancy fees.