EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans issues message to Bury and Bolton fans
"Our staff are unbelievably dedicated to football. To say that everyone is just sitting around not caring is grossly unfair"
By Liam Grace
Last Updated: 22/08/19 4:30pm
EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans says she "completely understands" criticism from Bury and Bolton fans as she tells Sky Sports News the league does "care" about both clubs.
Bury face expulsion from the EFL on Friday if owner Steve Dale is unable to prove their funding, and are under a 12-point deduction in Sky Bet League One, unable to fulfil any of their fixtures due to their financial problems.
Bolton were hit with the same penalty but have been allowed to play their matches, including a 5-0 loss to Tranmere, but their recent game against Doncaster was postponed due to welfare concerns for younger players.
Bury's problems stem from a lack of proof of funding, currently unable to pay players and staff, while Bolton's issues have arisen from a complex legal battle involving Ken Anderson, Laurence Bassini and Football Ventures.
What is happening at Bolton?
Laurence Bassini agreed to buy Bolton from Kevin Anderson in April but the deal fell through, with another potential buyer, Football Ventures, seeing a proposed takeover blocked by a court order. However, the sale of Bolton to Football Ventures is now allowed to proceed after the court order was adjourned.
Bolton boss Phil Parkinson and assistant Steve Parkin have resigned but there was good news last week when a court order blocking Football Ventures' takeover of Bolton was lifted, meaning a sale can now proceed.
In an interview with Sky Sports News, EFL executive chair Jevans issued a message to both Bury and Bolton fans.
There is a buyer out there, Football Ventures, and we are hopeful that [a deal] is very, very close.
"I have read heartbreaking stories from fans about what their clubs mean to their communities," she said. "The message [to Bury and Bolton fans] is that we do care.
"I wish we were not in this situation, but we do have a duty of care for 72 clubs. We have a duty of care to ensure we are running a sustainable league.
"We would not be doing the right thing by those fans, players and staff if we turned a blind eye and let this continue. If we did, we would be in the same situation in a few weeks' time.
What is happening at Bury?
If owner Steve Dale does not provide the EFL with the relevant information, Bury's membership will be terminated, which would see League One consist of 23 sides rather than 24 and three relegation spaces instead of four in 2019/20. Bury could then apply to re-join a lower, non-professional league for 2020/21.
"We've laid out for (Bury owner) Mr Dale what he needs to provide. Financial information that is no different to what any other club has to provide. We have simplified it, we have worked with him.
"As of today, now, he has not provided the information required for us to be sure he can run his club this season - pay his staff, play his players. He has not demonstrated that.
"When he's written to us, he's said he's got X amount of money, or Y is going to lend him the money. We've told him to provide the documentation that shows that. As much as I would like it to, an email doesn't pay wages.
"He passed the owners and directors test. I get that because of where we currently are, that is a frustration for many fans. Do we need to sit back and look at that? Do we need to reconsider? Do we need to work with the clubs?
"Because this situation is unacceptable. I totally get the passion of the fans.
"I completely understand why people may criticise us. There is a degree of frustration with Mr Dale, of course there is. This is a football club that has been around for a very long time and we want it to survive.
"We would be gutted, absolutely devastated [if Bury are expelled from the EFL]. Our staff are unbelievably dedicated to football.
I want us to reflect on how we got into this situation. What lessons can be learned, and how we can assure ourselves that this does not happen in the future.
"There is a passion and a desire to not leave one stone unturned to try and make this work. To think that everyone is just sitting around not caring is grossly unfair.
"The Bolton situation cannot go on forever. The club chose not to play a match [against Doncaster]. It is being run by an administrator, there is a buyer out there, Football Ventures, and we are hopeful that [a deal] is very, very close.
"I want us to reflect on how we got into this situation. What lessons can be learned, and how we can assure ourselves that this does not happen in the future.
"What we can do is look at how we govern ourselves. We cannot change the laws of the land, that is impossible. But we can look at ourselves and that is part of a process we are going through at the moment."