Bury captain Neil Danns said the club’s expulsion from the English Football League had “destroyed lives” as he tore into owner Steve Dale.
Having already postponed Bury’s first five scheduled league games and kicked them out of the EFL Cup, the league had made it clear to Dale there would be no more added time after he was given an extension to the last deadline on Friday night.
League One will now proceed with 23 clubs for the remainder of the season and only three clubs will be relegated in order to bring the division back to 24 teams next season. That plan, however, could change if Bolton are also expelled in the coming days.
EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans said: “Today is undoubtedly one of the darkest days in the league’s recent history. The EFL has worked determinedly and tirelessly to avoid this outcome and it is with a heavy heart that this situation has been forced upon us.
“The EFL has to place the integrity of our competitions at the heart of every decision we make, and we simply cannot allow this unacceptable situation to continue or countenance the prospect of postponing further fixtures.
“I understand this will be a deeply upsetting and devastating time for Bury’s players, staff, supporters and the wider community. There is no doubt today’s news will be felt across the entire football family.
“No one wanted to be in this position but following repeated missed deadlines, the suspension of five league fixtures, in addition to not receiving the evidence we required in regard to financial commitments and a possible takeover not materialising; the EFL board has been forced to take the most difficult of decisions.”
Asked if he had a message for owner Dale, Danns told talkSPORT radio: “I would say look what you’ve done.
“This should never have happened. If you thought you could not move this club forward in a positive way you should never have taken over because you’ve literally destroyed lives, because that’s what this football club meant to so many fans.”
He added that “serious questions have got to be asked” about what had happened.
“When you see the devastation of the fans I just think I have to say something,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. I still can’t believe it.”
Danns added: “We have been in as normal, training. I don’t think anyone really believed that this was going to happen.
“We were just preparing every single week as though the next game was going to be on, the next game was going to be on.
— Bury Football Club (@buryfcofficial) August 27, 2019
“For it to happen so suddenly, it’s still really unbelievable. For a club with so much history and that has added so much to the league, for it to just be gone like that is just unimaginable.”
Danns was captain of the side that won promotion from League Two last season: “I’ve come to have a special bond with the fans and created some amazing memories, especially last year.
“At this moment in time I just feel for them the most because you have got people who have been going to the game for years. It’s like every story, you go to the game with your Grandad, your Mum, your Dad, your brothers, it’s such a community. It means so much to people.
“For me, it’s starting to hit me harder because I have got young sons myself. I know what it is like to take them to watch my boyhood team Liverpool and the bond that gives us. To see that taken away from future fans is just devastating.
“Football brings not just football on the pitch but it is so much more than that. This whole situation just does not feel real.”