On Saturday April 25, 2020 Portsmouth were scheduled to play Bury at Fratton Park in a League 1 fixture. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, all football is postponed for the foreseeable future, but this is one match which wouldn’t have taken place anyway.
Because Bury FC were allowed to die after a litany of ownership and financial issues meant their 125-year history of EFL membership was ended in August 2019.
At Pompey, the fans know all about that. As their club’s fate dangled before a High Court judge, fortunately a £5m community bid to buy the club was successful in extremis in April 2013.
That saved league football at Fratton Park, but the Pompey experience has lessons for fans of clubs in the same situation, or like Bury’s worse, as the fans there face up to building a phoenix club from scratch.
Photo: Bury FC
Our Club, an 88-minute documentary film, directed by Barney Fox, tells the story of how Pompey’s predicament unfolded and, more importantly, how the fans were galvanised into taking action and ultimately bringing their club back from the brink.
And the film-makers want to give fans the chance to raise funds for Bury AFC, the new club inheriting the history of the old and starting afresh in the North West Counties League next season.
Supporters of Bury AFC can stream the film on the Vimeo platform for £5.95 until the end of April and £2.00 for each viewing will go towards building the new club. Click here to take advantage of this offer: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/ourclub
Our Club Trailer
Colin Farmery, executive producer of the film and who ran the PR campaign for the Pompey community bid said: “I hope this film can be an inspiration for Bury fans as they start out on their journey. With the power of fans, clubs always have the potential to have a better future, but all clubs need cash, so hopefully the film streaming will make a decent amount for Bury AFC.”
Phil Young, a director responsible for structuring the new club said "We’ve appreciated not just the financial donations but the emotional and practical support we’ve received from fans around the country over the past 12 months.
“The club’s previous owners have often failed to recognise the bond that exists between fans of the club, between other clubs and with a football club's history.
“Pompey fans have been amongst the most supportive and we know that’s in part down to the journey they went on. Every penny we get is protected and goes into the society which owns Bury AFC to ensure that we never repeat the mistakes of the past.
“Times are hard for all clubs and all supporters right now so this gesture is exceptionally generous.”
Ashley Brown, who was Chair of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust from 2011-2017 and is now head of supporter engagement and governance at the Football Supporters’ Association, said: “There are numerous examples of the supporters saving football clubs, they are the ones who refuse to let clubs die.
"At Pompey we were lucky enough to save the club whilst it remained in existence and a place in the EFL. Others, such as Bury have had to start from scratch, but you only need to look at AFC Wimbledon to see what can be achieved under supporter ownership.
“Thanks to Bury AFC, the supporters have a future and a club to follow and there are plenty of people who have been there before ready to help.”