An Open Letter to Steve Dale

Dear Mr. Dale,

I read your latest statement on the problems at Bury Football Club with a familiar sense of dread. The ‘sadness’ you mention in the opening paragraph is dwarfed many, many times over by the financial and mental health problems experienced by staff and fans as a result of the current situation. Nobody has ‘an agenda’ against you. Employees simply want to be paid what they’re owed up to this point, and on time in the months to come.

Once more, nobody is saying the parlous state is mostly attributable to you. Everyone’s cognisant of the reckless spending by previous incumbent, Stewart Day. A small number of supporters saw the warning signs well before I did, and were branded ‘keyboard cowards’, and many of whom were subjected to shameful treatment at one of the few fans’ forums held during his tenure. Three years later when I started this blog, I, like they, came in for heavy criticism when examining the decisions that were putting the future of Bury in serious jeopardy  on more than one occasion. To his credit, former CEO Karl Evans agreed to have a lengthy conversation with me on a number of topics, where I put forth realistic ways of generating more income. Even at the moment you took over from Day, I still caught plenty of flak for what some people believed was a clickbait article – which was as far from that as possible. Yet again, I called for financial prudence.

In fairness, that was what you promised. It was abundantly clear that the headcount needed cutting in both a playing and non-playing sense. What I don’t understand then is with the club in the top three of League Two and some individuals attracting serious interest from teams higher up the pyramid, why didn’t you sanction their sales? Whilst it would almost certainly have resulted in any promotion bid ceasing, it could have gone some way to addressing the most pressing debts. You mention in your statement that you regret not cutting the ‘surplus (non-playing) staff’ – laying people off would never have been a popular decision, but again, from the outside looking in, it might have been welcomed as a necessary step to sustainability.

I’m glad you took the time to recognise the efforts of the coaching staff and players at gaining promotion with all the uncertainty in the back of their minds the whole time. Whilst their success has not been wholly appreciated throughout domestic football (with some fans ironically thinking it was ‘bought’), I firmly believe they will, to a person, all be regarded as heroes in the years to come.

What I cannot abide by however is the temerity to single out Nicky Adams for criticism. He and everyone else that collectively took the decision to play without remuneration were putting their careers at risk, and at 32, coming off the back of a horrible injury in 2017/2018 with Carlisle United, that cannot have been an easy choice for him to make.

The very fact that the players released a joint statement is proof positive of how dire things are, and wouldn’t have been something that they composed lightly. Many of them could’ve easily walked away by this point to join other sides – maybe they still will. The same principle applies for Ryan Lowe and all the talk of him leaving to manage Plymouth Argyle. Who could honestly begrudge him or anyone else for finding gainful, stable employment at other clubs?

I’d advise that you look to conclude a deal with one of the two seriously interested parties as soon as possible. I’m now of the mind-set that no longer can long-suffering supporters be beholden to a single person deciding the fate of the club they love so dearly. Fellow fans set up Buy Our Bury with the aim of taking the club out of private ownership. The boom and bust cycle must end. The club must live within their means, even if the ‘cost’ of doing is so is operating well below the third tier of the domestic game. I want to work to ensure that my three year-old son, should he develop an interest in the sport, has the chance to support the same club I and three previous generations of my family did/do.

I confess myself extremely disappointed that it’s got to the point it has for wider media attention to finally be focused on BL9, and can’t help but wonder whether your statement is in reaction to that, rather than the pressing need to address concerns. The list of clubs in trouble grows ever longer, and there are fundamental flaws in the structure of English football that are going to make these instances increase in the short-term, never mind the long-term. I’m also utterly perplexed at the need for you to mention and thank Shaun Harvey, the outgoing EFL Chief Executive. Ask fans of Leeds United what role he played at their club for years, how he has treated near neighbours Bolton Wanderers (now in administration), and how he has been complicit in being totally obsequious to the demands of the Premier League, which have only served to further heap pressure on smaller clubs in his gift as head of the ‘competition organisers’.

I put it to you that is the many, not the few, who have the true best interests of the club at heart. I have been remarkably restrained in the words I have used in this letter. You have had chance after chance after chance to adopt a more open, far less recalcitrant attitude towards every concerned player, member of staff, fan, and other stakeholders in the past several months. Instead, you have taken a very adversarial line that sheds you in an extremely negative light that has galvanised these different groups into a united front against you.

Kind Regards,

A cloud spinner


One thought on “An Open Letter to Steve Dale”

  1. As a fan of yet another club in serious trouble (Macc Town) my heart goes out to you and every other Bury supporter. Your promotion is all the more impressive when you consider everything happening behind the scenes – we had the same scenario last year, resulting in us scrambling around in the pits of EFL2 all season. When did football stop being about the fans and start being about the fat cats eh?

    Fingers crossed for some sort of light at the end of the tunnel for Bury.