Bury Town will aim to hit a six-figure target through their commercial activities next season as part of trying to restore the Blues’ fortunes.
Chairman Russell Ward unveiled the £100,000 figure during Monday’s fans’ forum at Ram Meadow, where almost 100 supporters turned up to air their views on the club’s current plight and share their ideas for the future.
Ward admitted Bury’s number one priority was to return the club’s cash position to positive, but insisted they retained ambitions of reaching Conference North/South football within two years.
Closing the meeting, he said: “It will take time, but our aim is to get through the season, rebuild through the summer and make sure we hit the ground running next year.”
The meeting was set up after Bury’s well-documented recent financial difficulties, with the club enduring a ‘tight cash-flow situation’.
As exclusively revealed by the Free Press, Bury’s non-contract players were not paid all of their wages for November.
That led to the departures of senior players Shane Tolley, David Bridges and Ryan Semple, while Russell Short — who used to share driving duties with the trio — became the fourth to depart in little more than a month because he has been having to travel to and from his Milton Keynes home alone.
Concerns were raised during Monday’s fans’ forum about the number of player departures, but Ward said he was hopeful there will be no more and the Blues were searching for possible loan options as replacements.
He stated there was no debt other than money owed to players and loans to directors.
Looking ahead to Bury’s future plans, they hope to be in a new ground by September 2016, while talk of setting up an academy to encourage player development also dominated discussion.
Plans are being put in place to reform a supporters’ club, which would support the board in implementing ideas and fundraising efforts.
Backing the need for a supporters’ club, one Bury fan said: “Perhaps we all need to take some responsibility for the position we are in.”
Several people spoke out about the club’s lack of visibility to the local community and businesses, something Ward admitted they ‘could be doing a much better job at’.
There were complaints about so few fixture posters being around the town, but more volunteers are needed to distribute them
Ideas at increasing visibility surround the club’s new slogans — ‘one town, one goal’ and ‘be part of it’ — improving events, involving the youth set-up more and a possible business club, among others, while Bury are also looking at buying into a scheme to deliver fans information via text message.
There was also talk of setting up a player-budget fund, while one fan said the club needs to do more with new technology, such as social media, to attract ‘young blood’.
Setting up high-profile friendlies with the likes of Ipswich Town were suggested and Ward said there is ‘something in the pipeline’ for the forthcoming summer.
The evening was covered live on the Free Press website and Twitter, prompting more than 100 responses from people involved in football across East Anglia and Bury supporters from across the country.
Bury Town fan Jamie Crouch (Twitter: @JCrouch16) said: “The club needed reshaping and some fresh impetus I felt. Hopefully the last couple of months could be a blessing in disguise.”
Fellow supporter Thomas Barker (@ThomasWBarker), who lives in Canterbury,
added: “It’s very much a Catch 22.
“Success equals more funding for facilities, but hard to achieve that success without modern facilities.”
Debenham LC club secretary Dan Snell (@snells92) believes it will be difficult
for Bury to ‘achieve and
sustain’ on the gates they currently get, while Mike Cusack (@mcusack14) — the Free Press’ Walsham-le-Willows FC correspondent — said it sounded like ‘a positive meeting’.
Suggestions were also made as to how the club could raise more money, including running promotions when Ipswich Town are away and introducing a corporate season ticket.
n The first fundraising event organised is an evening with the players at Bury’s Valley Connection Indian restaurant — with 60 places available at £19.99 each.
n Bury Town’s 10-match unbeaten run came to an end at title favourites Wealdstone on Saturday in the Ryman League Premier Division.
The hosts attacked from the first whistle and took the lead after only six minutes when Michael Malcom’s shot was pushed away by Marcus Garnham, but the ball fell to former Football League striker Scott McGleish, who fired home from a narrow angle.
This prompted further waves of attacks by the home side, with Garnham making a world-class save to deny Tom Pett and then keeping a McGleish effort out with his foot, before making a double save from Luke Pigden and Pett again.
As the half progressed, Bury began to settle, but apart from two free-kicks by Billy Clark that were saved by Jonathon North, little was seen of them as an attacking force.
Bury fell further behind after 57 minutes when a floated free-kick by Elliott Godfrey was touched home by Malcolm.
As the weather got worse, the referee suspended play midway through the half due to lightning for about 10 minutes.
The players returned to a pitch resembling a paddy field with the ball sticking in the surface water.
For Bury, their best moment came from a mazy run by Liam Wales, which he was unable to finish as he ran in on goal.
But it was still the hosts who had the upper hand and they made certain of the points on 83 minutes when Scott McGleish headed home his second from Tom Pett’s cross.
Bury: Garnham, Smith, Dunbar, Short, Bailey-Dennis (Taylor 80), Bullard, Wales, Kennedy (Bailey 76), Cunningham (Roulston 24), Clark, Whight.
n Bury Town SuperDraw week 35: £1,000 M Ballard; £150 M Campbell; £100 Mrs Cotton; £75 M Mitchell; £50 G Udall, M Titley; £25 P J Medicote, Alan Dean, M Lewis, N Fisk.
The birth date drawn was 10/01/83. There were no winners so next week’s jackpot will be £200.
The SuperDraw provides the club with roughly £3,200 per year for every 100 people signed up for just £1 a week — details on the club’s official website, www.burytownfc.co.uk