A group of Bury FC football fans who are holding a protest tomorrow in opposition to a proposed merger.
Vote No Merger members will walk from the Bridge Tavern pub to the Redbank playgrounds on Saturday from 11am.
The peaceful protest comes after the Bury FC Supporters Society (BFCSS) and Bury AFC’s Shaker’s Community Society Ltd announced merger proposals in May in a bid to bring elite men’s football back to the city.
The board has pledged £450,000 in funding to Bury FC if members vote in favor of the proposed merger.
But the plans weren’t well received by some sections of the former fan base.
Vote No Merger has gained a large following on social media with over 200 fans joining its private Facebook group since its inception in August.
Group administrator and Gigg Lane volunteer David Clarke, 26, said fans were concerned that no date had been set for the vote.
He said: “I just feel like for months now we just haven’t had a vote, it’s just that he’s been continuously kicking the box with the vote.
“They say it will be a merger, but in the plans it will be the AFC club, company name and number moving here.”
But with the march due to end tomorrow Saturday at Redbank Playing Fields, Radcliffe FC chairman Paul Hilton announced on Friday that the club had called off all of their junior matches.
In a lengthy statement, Mr Hilton said: ‘I am appalled at the decision to choose to walk to Redbank Playing Fields – the home of Radcliffe Juniors, even worse on a Saturday morning when any football fan will know the children will enjoy their sport in a safe and friendly environment and I’m also disappointed that none of the Bury Football Groups have seriously considered the effect this might have on our local kids – the local kids at Radcliffe FC – who are absolutely innocent of anything related to the Bury feuds FC fans may have.”
In response, Vote No Merger said they were unaware that any junior matches were to be played on the playgrounds.
They said they believed the games would be diverted from there due to an FA Cup qualifier to be played at Radcliffe FC’s Stainton Park between AFC Bury and North Shields.
A group spokesperson said: “We fully understand Paul’s position as he wants Radcliffe FC to be the best it can be and this weekend is a big weekend for him with his stadium being used to host the game of Bury AFC in the FA Cup.
“We believe he has made statements which are not actually factual with the postponement of youth football at Red Bank Playing Fields as we have been advised that football matches have been moved away from the playing fields to facilitate the cameras of television which will be present. .
“That’s why we chose Redbank Fields as a suitable destination to end our walk.”
The spokesperson added: “Now Paul has said a decision has been made to cancel all games on the pitches, we now know it won’t be a problem to demonstrate on the pitches and encourage all supporters without voting rights to attend tomorrow (Saturday) and show Paul and Radcliffe FC that we are never going to be a threat to young children playing their football games.
“It is ridiculous to have been tarnished in this way for organizing what will be a peaceful protest.
“We are saddened that Paul did not reach out to us before posting what we believe to be an incorrect statement.
“The statement released by Paul on behalf of Radcliffe FC is further evidence of what true Bury FC supporters who have not watched football since July 2019 are facing.
“We have to stand up for those supporters and what we believe in.”
After the rally at 11 a.m., the march will officially begin at 11:15 a.m. from the Bridge Tavern to the Redbank Playing Fields.
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