Keeping Gigg Lane vital for Bury phoenix club, says ex-AFC Wimbledon chairman

Bury supporters have been advised keeping Gigg Lane is key to starting a phoenix club after the Shakers’ English Football League membership was withdrawn at 11pm on Tuesday night.

The north-west outfit face liquidation, with owner Steve Dale unable to find a buyer before the deadline.

Kris Stewart, who as founding chairman played a pivotal role in helping AFC Wimbledon start again in 2002, hopes Bury can continue in some capacity.

AFC Wimbledon's founding chairman Kris Stewart (left) hopes Bury supporters can continue watching their team
AFC Wimbledon’s founding chairman Kris Stewart (left) hopes Bury supporters can continue watching their team (PA)

He told the PA news agency: “The biggest thing for the fans to understand now is they are the club. Not Steve Dale, not Shaun Harvey, but the fans are Bury FC.

“They are the people who will decide what happens to the club going forward. Belief is key and they need to keep the ground.

“They definitely need to keep the ground and talk to the local council and Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who is a football person. The fans must use him as much as they can and he will understand and so will the local council.”

Bury FC Plight
Volunteers cleaned the seats at Gigg Lane earlier this week (Peter Byrne/PA)

On May 28, 2002 the Football Association confirmed Wimbledon FC would relocate north to Milton Keynes. Within days AFC Wimbledon had been formed and on July 10, 2002 the club’s first fixture took place against Sutton United.

Stewart added: “A football match shows you can still play. All people want is to watch their club play football and it shows that Bury FC has not died.”

The former AFC Wimbledon chairman suggested FC United of Manchester may be a poignant first opponent for any potential Bury phoenix club to start against.

“They must know FC United because of the groundshare at Gigg Lane and people there will know how to start from scratch,” Stewart said.

“Get games on and people will be there again. We got 4,500 fans to watch non-league football at Gander Green Lane and it was astonishing, so there’s lots of goodwill out there.”

Stewart also suggested Bury supporters contact clubs like Wimbledon to ensure the fixtures the Shakers were meant to fulfil this season can still be marked.

He said: “Why not go to the Trust, who run Wimbledon, and do something on the day they were meant to play each other and name it Bury Day?”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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