Luton boss feels FA should have done more to protect Bury

Hatters boss Graeme Jones
Hatters boss Graeme Jones

Luton chief Graeme Jones believes both the FA and footballing family as a whole should have done more to protect his former side Bury after they were expelled from the Football League on Tuesday.

The Shakers, who had won League Two last season, were given until 5pm on Tuesday to prove they could pay off creditors and had the funding to last the season.

A proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk fell apart though, and with Bury having unable to secure a buyer, the FA took the decision once the deadline passed.

Jones had a brief stay at Gigg Lane during his playing days, signing in July 2004, playing three games and scoring once, before moving to Clyde in January 2005

Speaking about the 'tragic' events this week, and his time there, Jones said: “Gary Brabin (Luton assistant boss) played for them as well, so we took it quite bad as I think it’s tragic when you see that.

“I was going to stop playing at 34, because I took a teaching job at a college and I was working part time at Middlesbrough academy.

“Graham Barrow offered me a playing contract at a full time club and that summer I had retired on 99 goals, so I only really wanted to go back to Bury to get my 100th goal, which I did on my debut after 10 minutes.

“I really could have retired at that point, because I’d achieved what I wanted to.

"But staying there for six months as Neville Neville and his wife, Jill, Phil and Gary Neville’s parents were running the club, it was a really, really good football club with good morals and good integrity.

“The supporters were brilliant and had real pride in their history and what they’d done.

“So for that to go out of the Football League, I find it tragic.

“With the amount of money that’s in the game, not so far away at Manchester City and Man United and Liverpool, surely as a football family, we have to get round and protect the game.

“Bolton are in a similar situation, we have to protect what we’ve got.

“You go on the continent and everyone looks in envy at our league.

"You’ve got 92 league clubs, plus a Conference that’s practically full time and we need to be proud of that, we need to protect it.

“That’s where my disappointment is, that the authorities can’t step in and support a club like Bury with their heritage and keep it going, so really, really disappointing.”

The Hatters themselves have dropped out of the league in recent times, spending five years in the Conference after being deducted 30 points by the FA at the start of the 2008-09 season after being found guilty of misconduct for paying agents via a third party.

Jones believes that Bury, two-times FA Cup winners, could use how Luton dealt with the penalty to plot their way back into the Football League.

He added: “I think Bury have got no choice but to make a positive out of the situation.

“They’ve gone out of the league, that’s it, done and dusted and we went out of the league not so long ago.

“I think it strengthened the club, that experience, I felt it coming here, I felt the togetherness.

“There’s a triangle between players, supporters and staff, I could feel that power walking through the door.

“That doesn’t exist at every football club.

"A lot of people lose track of what’s important, but that’s been harboured correctly, from the 2020 board and Gary (Sweet, chief executive), through the supporters, through the recruitment of staff and players through the years.

“Bury need to look at it that way and you can actually come back stronger than what their previous situation was, so hopefully they’ll use Luton as an example.”