Unfortunately, we feel compelled to make a statement about the recent actions of Forever Bury so as to distance the Phoenix Club from them.
Forever Bury have supplied a letter of endorsement for Mr. Rob Benwell to Capital Bridge, the lending business which owns a charge over Gigg Lane and will determine its fate once liquidated. Mr Benwell has formed a limited company with Forever Bury as 10% shareholders, with the intention of buying the assets in liquidation.
However, this does not save the original football club. Only securing the sale of the club before any such time that it enters liquidation, would enable the current club to continue in its current form. Should this happen and the purchasers have the interests of the club and its fans at the forefront of their intentions, the Phoenix Club would step aside.
It is true that volunteers within the Phoenix Club have raised concerns about Mr. Benwell, his intentions and whether he is suitable or has the personal resources to run a football club in Bury.
It is also reasonable for Mr. Benwell to respond to those questions and state his own case. Ultimately, anyone is entitled to purchase assets in liquidation and run whatever business model they wish. However, we do not believe it is acceptable to act in a way which undermines the ethos of a supporters’ trust. One which should value inclusivity and supporter rights over all else. Forever Bury’s name has been misused.
We know that Forever Bury did not consult with or advise its members about this decision. No vote was taken. We also understand that members of the Forever Bury board were not involved or advised about the negotiation of 10% equity, the formation of the company or given any of the relevant information a board member could expected to have seen in advance of such a crucial decision.
The results of our recent fan survey were clear: fans want at least 51% control of the club.
This was evident when reviewing the responses to the survey from supporters from all areas, including those who are members of Forever Bury. We therefore do not see what has led Forever Bury into such extreme action and restrict the number of overall fan-controlled shares to only 10% (as was the case when Stewart Day seized control in 2013).
We reiterate, this does not save the old ‘Bury Football Club’, we start afresh regardless. The acquisition of Gigg Lane is something which should be worked on collectively rather than in secret. The Phoenix Club is already working through the various stages of an application with the FA.
We do not wish to speak for the volunteers of the Phoenix Club, many of whom are also Forever Bury members. We know there is growing pressure to force an EGM and democratically agree change at Forever Bury. We also know that some volunteers would prefer to give up fan ownership in return for securing Gigg Lane and have always stated they would not pursue support of the Phoenix Club if this was the case.
This is something we must all be allowed to decide on if that day comes, even at this late stage.
This statement is not an attack on Mr. Benwell. Nor is it intended to direct Forever Bury members to any particular course of action. We simply feel the need to distance ourselves from the actions of Forever Bury, which we believe lacked respect for the fans and members they should be supporting. We do not want our club to be run in that fashion.
As previously stated, the Phoenix Club is ‘By the Fans, For the Fans’ and we will do our upmost to ensure this is the case for all matters.
Bury Phoenix Club