MPs left 'stunned' after Greg Clarke admits FA only intervened in Bury crisis a month after club had already collapsed

Tom Morgan
The Telegraph
A devastated Bury fan standing outside Gigg Lane - Action Images via Reuters
A devastated Bury fan standing outside Gigg Lane - Action Images via Reuters

The Football Association "stunned" MPs by declaring it only intervened in the Bury crisis a month after the club had already collapsed.

Greg Clarke, the FA chairman, told a Westminster committee investigating the dire state of finances in the lower leagues that it was outside his organisation's remit to "interfere" in regulatory matters delegated to the English Football League.

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However, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee member Ian Lucas MP said he was "stunned" that the guardian of the English game left it so late to get involved.

"I'm amazed that Greg Clarke did not get involved until it left the Football League," he said afterwards. Bury's EFL membership was withdrawn in August after owner Steve Dale was unable to provide financial sustainability guarantees, and a bid to have the club reinstated in League Two for the start of next season was rejected by the 71 members of the EFL at a clubs' meeting on September 26.

A winding-up petition was adjourned on October 16, with the club now facing the threat of liquidation at a hearing on October 30. Clarke, called to give evidence alongside the Premier League and the EFL, confirmed he had first become involved "three or four weeks" ago, adding: "I don’t interfere in the league enforcing their rules."

When asked why, he said: "For as long as I’m aware, the competitions have written down efficient rules and enforced them." These, he said, have "never been enforced by the FA".

<span>Bury were expelled from the Football League in August</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Bury were expelled from the Football League in August Credit: Getty Images

In a heated exchange, Debbie Jevans, the EFL's executive chair, was told by committee chair Damian Collins that "Bury fans will think the EFL failed in  its duty." Collins, the Tory MP, asked Jevans if any auditing was done to ensure estimated turnover figures provided by clubs are accurate. It appears not.

"I find it astonishing you don’t know," he adds. "The situation with Bury is one that is immensely regretful," Jevans said. 

Earlier, the Forever Bury fans group had used parliamentary privilege to name an alleged conflict of interest between two officials involved in the club's demise who had hidden they fact they were brother-in-laws.

Collins said afterwards that the Commons inquiry "has it made clear that people profited a lot over Bury's demise". "Someone took £1 million away from Bury FC in 'brokerage fees'" he tweeted.

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