League One could be reduced to 23 clubs today as crisis club Bury face expulsion from the EFL
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There is the real threat that League One could be reduced to just 23 clubs today as Bury face expulsion from the EFL.
The Gigg Lane club have yet to play a competitive game this season, with their first six suspended while the EFL wait for owner Steve Dale to provide assurances he has a financial plan for the club going forward or to sell the club.
Dale has missed several deadlines to provide those assurances this summer although the Bury owner, who bought the club for £1 in December, insists he has submitted all the relevant evidence to the EFL.
Bury have already been given a 12-point deduction and have been placed under a transfer embargo, preventing them signing any more players following a summer which has seen an exodus from the squad which won promotion from League Two just a few weeks ago.
Club staff and players say they have not been paid.
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Much of the club's financial trouble is as a result of over-spending under previous owner Stewart Day, who spent big and brought in players from higher divisions in a bid to move up the leagues.
There has been talk of a possible take over which has yet to come to fruition and a short stay of execution could be granted today in order for a deal to be completed.
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However, unless the EFL are satisfied with the club's financial plan by midnight, they face the real threat of being thrown out of the Football League after 125 years of membership.
If that was to happen League One would be reduced to 23 clubs with the number of relegation places reduced from four to three. Four teams would still be promoted from League Two, meaning a full compliment of 24 clubs in the third tier next season.
An EFL statement reads: "The EFL Board continues to be frustrated at the lack of significant progress that has been made by Mr Dale in providing the information required. However, we will continue to work with the current ownership in an attempt to achieve a resolution ahead of the Notice of Withdrawal deadline of Friday 23 August.
"It remains in regular communication with Mr Dale but if a solution is not found by the deadline, the Board will authorise the necessary share transfer on behalf of Bury FC which shall be legally binding on all parties and result, regretfully, in the Club no longer being a member of the League.
"Should this happen, Bury's record from the 2019/20 season would be expunged with League One consisting of 23 Clubs for the remainder of the campaign and the number of relegation places reduced to three at the conclusion of 2019/20 season. Four promotion places would remain from League Two ensuring a full complement of 24 teams in League One in 2020/21.
"Bury would then be free to make an application to the Football Association to re-join league competition further down the English football pyramid from season 2020/21."
Ipswich are due to host Bury on November 2 and travel to Gigg Lane on March 28.