I’ll start with Bury.
In November 2018, the consequences of the monetary drought at Gigg Lane came to a head when unpaid wage upon unpaid wage from player and coaching staff alike mounted evermore heavily on the shoulders of owner Stewart Day.
Day did, eventually, manage to put cash in his employee’s pockets on the day of his departure on 11 December, but the underlying problems still remaining cast a shadow that would eclipse the club’s remaining days.
Despite a successful campaign to get the club promoted from League Two, the gaping wound in Bury FC had not been tended by new owner Steve Dale.
Blood continued to cascade drastically from the aforementioned gash; further winding-up petitions from unpaid members of staff saw the club taken to the High Court on two separate occasions to resolve the matter - the players all the while solemnly swearing to speak nothing of the club as it fell apart around them.
Then came the Summer of 2019 - Bury’s last as a football club - and the situation became so drastic that the PFA (Professional Footballer’s Association) intervened to pay half of the players’ wages, who would’ve otherwise gone - once again - with nothing whatsoever. Bury’s fans themselves were also said to have raised shopping vouchers ‘in the region of £900’ to help ensure the members of their club could get by.
All this transpired before the club’s eventual demise. This wasn’t just a series of poor administrative decisions, this was a club run so horrendously over the years that its players, staff and God knows who else were at genuine risk of going without the means to get food for their families.
Then there’s Wigan, of course, whose powers that be have cast ominous doubts over their club’s future. Bolton you’ll recall also diced with death and were bought in the nick of time while Bury simultaneously crumbled.
Sunderland too. That lot. They’ve had a few issues if I remember correctly. While I found myself agreeing with very little of what Charlie Methven spouted during his time as a Director at the club, I don’t doubt he wasn’t lying when he proclaimed we were “on course to be the first ‘big club’ to go out of business.”
This is what it’s like to witness a club die; at the very least it’s a first-hand experience of seeing one put on life-support. It is heartbreak, despondency and disappointment’s roots digging in to the deepest reaches of your football fan psyche.
Now that we know what demise looks like, let me show you what it doesn’t look like:
I’m sorry, Newcastle fans, but you honestly don’t know you’re born. Mike Ashley has re-established your lot as a comfortable mid-table Premier League side. No one is claiming that he’s a saint - or even a respectable person in any way or form - but none of you can deny that he has contributed enough from his own pocket to maintain Newcastle’s reputation as a financially stable top flight outfit, with access to a war chest that will allow them to compete at the top level.
But there was the possibility of the Saudi Crown Prince - an even richer billionaire - buying the club and subsequently investing ludicrous, fantastical money on the best player from every European division’s best team, like he’d got trigger-happy with a Football Manager in-game editor. Unfortunately, for a plethora of moral dilemmas I’m not even going to bother getting into, the deal fell through. The richer billionaire is no longer viable for the future of your club; you’ll have to settle for the poor billionaire instead.
Yet you have the audacity to claim your club is dying? To cite heartbreak and the deterioration of your mental well-being... over this?!
Honestly man, get a grip. Cash in a reality cheque and realise that just because you’re not going to become a European superpower overnight doesn’t mean that the heart and soul has been taken from your club. You are still a stable mid-table Premier League team with a lot of potential on the current budget provided to you by a man you hold up to your children as a fairytale monster, despite your readiness to welcome the leader of a murderous regime into the club with open arms.
(Ah, would you look at that? I did get into the moral dilemmas.)
The media are also to blame, of course. But why should we expect any better from them? It’s so easy to pander to you lot when you’re wallowing in self-pity over the current most trivial inconvenience in modern football.
Jim White joined you in ‘mourning’ too, didn’t he? Can’t say I’m surprised, he presented Sky Sports’s deadline day-style countdown timer for whether or not Bury and Bolton would be bought in time to prevent liquidation. Some might say that was morbid and incomprehensibly insensitive, but why should we care about that when the poor, oh-so-hard-done-by Mags aren’t going to clink some #cans over Mbappe after all?
If you can afford £40m for Joelinton and can subsidize a former Champions League winning manager with £60m in the Championship, then I’m sure you can find it within yourselves to soldier on, against all that tragic heartbreak you keep telling us you’re enduring.
Just don’t expect a comforting arm around the shoulder from anyone at Bury.