Gigg Lane, the former home of Bury FC, will host football again from next season after a vote to merge two fan groups.
Gigg Lane had served as the home of Bury FC since opening in 1885 but it has not staged any matches since the club’s expulsion from the English Football League (EFL) in 2019.
Following Bury FC’s expulsion, a phoenix club named Bury AFC was formed by fans. The phoenix club has been playing matches at Stainton Park in nearby Radcliffe, but from next season it will call Gigg Lane home.
On Friday, members of the Bury FC Supporters Society and Bury AFC’s Shaker’s Community Society voted in favour of Gigg Lane becoming the home of Bury AFC. The move was approved by 97% of the vote, with 1,116 in favour, 34 against and nine abstentions.
The motion to adopt Bury Football Club as the new name of Bury AFC was also approved by 92% of the vote, while the merging of the two fan groups was approved by 97% of the vote.
In February 2022, Bury FC Supporters Society and Est. 1885 completed a deal to purchase the 12,000-seat Gigg Lane from club administrator Steven Wiseglass. The group also acquired the trading name, history and memorabilia of Bury FC.
A statement released following Friday’s vote read: “Bury Football Club Supporters Society would like to thank all fans who voted on the future of your club. A fan-owned club is nothing without its loyal fans, you are all valued and have a part to play.”
Bury Council has welcomed news of the merger, which it hailed as a “tremendous result” for the community.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council, said: “Bringing together the football fan base in Bury, united behind one team, was always going to be the most sensible and sustainable way forward to guarantee the future of the stadium as a footballing venue and a community asset.
“It has taken a lot of hard work from a lot of people to get to this point, and we would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this journey. From the outset, we made it clear that the council would provide £450,000 (€517,000/$568,000) towards the community stadium proposals, conditional upon a merger and a viable business case in support of Gigg Lane.
“We are delighted that Bury football fans have got firmly behind the plans for this new future. We look forward to working closely with the new club to maximise the benefits to the local community and deliver a one-club, fan-run, community-led future for Bury FC, which will also have considerable benefits for the local economy.”
Bury AFC plays in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League, the ninth tier of English football.