But results in league still poor
16 November ~ When new chairman Stewart Day and his board of directors took over Bury earlier this year, fans were assured that this was a revolution. The club's Twitter feed made this clear, with every message carrying the hashtag #buryareback in deference to the unknown 31-year-old's plans. The hyperbole was justified as Day's takeover came just weeks after an announcement that the club was in dire financial straits. Stories emerged of two men sitting in a van on Gigg Lane waiting to padlock the gates as part of a winding-up order.
Manager Kevin Blackwell applauded the new regime and welcomed their professionalism following on from the old guard who appointed him in autumn 2012. After the cashflow crisis had forced him to release every out-of-contract player at the start of a summer following relegation, he set to the task of building a new squad. Despite claiming that the club were already lagging behind in the transfer market because of the takeover's longer-than-forecast completion, he signed 23 players and had dozens on trial.
But for all the good work that has since been done off the pitch in smartening up the club's look, feel and engagement with the community, the air of revolution has not yet turned those new players into a winning team. As performances dipped after a couple of bright showings early on, Blackwell eventually stopped coming out to face the media after games. Showing his mettle and answering some critics suspicious of his motives, Day relieved Blackwell of his duties following a home defeat to Morecambe in mid October.
Ronnie Jepson, a former playing hero from the 1997 Division Two championship side and Blackwell's assistant in the dugout, has been put in charge on an interim basis until January. A defeat, draw and win in his first three games raised expectations somewhat, as did the dismantling process of parts of the squad yet to have reached the starting XI, before a 3-1 home defeat to Torquay. A listless, passion-free performance from the team thrown together haphazardly has brought about fears of relegation to the Conference. The team are currently 22nd, two points above the bottom two; today's opponents Bristol Rovers are one point better off, in 20th place.
In perhaps the most impressive example of the new board's influence, it was announced this week that Gigg Lane would be renamed the JD Stadium following a sponsorship deal with the sportswear chain that started life in Bury more than 30 years ago. It's a move that has been accepted with good grace by the majority of users on the club's message board and pledges have been made that the money received for the deal will be used to strengthen the squad. It's drastic action that is desperately needed. James Bentley