Bury: Winding-up petition over unpaid tax bill dismissed by High Court

Bury were expelled from the English Football League in August, just three months after they won automatic promotion from League Two

A winding-up petition issued against Bury over an unpaid tax bill has been dismissed by the High Court.

The Shakers were expelled from the English Football League in August after failing to provide financial guarantees and the collapse of a takeover bid.

The club was previously given two weeks to allow the processing of tax returns to HM Revenue & Customs.

However, a lawyer for HMRC told the Insolvency and Companies Court that a debt had been paid.

No detail about the amount that Bury, who were promoted to League One last season, owed was given in court.

The club were previously given a 35-day extension in October, with their lawyers arguing that they needed time to establish whether they had paid too much tax.

The Shakers appeared to be on the brink of liquidation after a prospective buyer ended their interest in October.

However, they previously argued they continued to automatically pay tax on wages that have not, in fact, been paid to staff.

Meanwhile, the North West Counties League confirmed it has received an application from a newly-formed club called Bury AFC for membership commencing at the start of the 2020-21 season.

A group of fans behind the formation of a phoenix club announced on Tuesday that they have applied to join the NWCL, which is the ninth and 10th tier of the English football pyramid.

The phoenix club is unaffiliated with the original Bury FC.

A NWCL statement said: “The league will be working with the club, the Football Association and other interested parties in progressing the application.

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“At this stage, we are reviewing the application and supporting documents.

“The league’s board of directors will meet to discuss the application and whether, as this is an application from a newly-formed club, to support the application ahead of the FA deadline of 1 February, 2020.”

What does this mean for Bury now?

Bury Football Club, founded in 1885, still exists despite the fact they do not currently have a league to play in.

Wednesday’s dismissal in the High Court gave them a reprieve, however, this is not necessarily the end of a drawn-out saga which has left fans in the dark as to where the club goes next and in what form.

On 18 July, creditors approved a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which was proposed to help settle some of the club’s debts.

The CVA temporarily froze those debts, but this arrangement will expire in January, leading the way for creditors to then issue another winding-up petition if they wish.

In the meantime, businessman Robert Benwell is to address supporters on Thursday with his plans to “bring football back to Bury”, with one of the options being starting the club again if it goes into liquidation.

Should this happen, the Bury FC name could be retained and they could make an application to rejoin the English football pyramid next season – possibly at National League level, as has been proposed in the time since their expulsion from the EFL.

A phoenix club named Bury AFC have also made plans to enter lower down the pyramid but, depending on what happens next with the current Bury FC, they may step aside.

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