'I can't imagine Sheffield Wednesday no longer existing' – Owls fan behind crowdfunding campaign to save Bury FC
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Graham Butler is trying to raise a massive £8 million to prevent the troubled League One club, threatened with expulsion from the English Football League (EFL), from folding.
He wants football supporters from across the country to set aside their differences and unite behind Bury, whose first three games have been suspended as they battle serious financial problems.
Hundreds of pounds have already poured into the JustGiving page which the 37-year-old father-of-two set up yesterday, and his actions have been widely praised.
The target may be ambitious – representing the total debt with which the club is reportedly saddled – but Graham says he hopes whatever fans can raise will help Bury stave off the threat of extinction while they attempt to sort out their money woes.
“As a Wednesday fan, I remember the years when we nearly went under, and it really saddens me to see Bury fans going through the same thing,” he said.
“If Wednesday weren’t in my life, there would be a big void. I can’t imagine my team no longer existing, and that’s why I decided I had to do what I could to help Bury.
“If all the supporters at every ground across the country donated just £1 each that would go a huge way to keeping them afloat until they find a new buyer.”
Graham, who lives in Portland, Dorset, and is making the 550-mile round trip to watch his beloved Owls take on Barnsley at Hillsborough today, has no connections with Bury.
He was inspired to launch the fundraising campaign after the Carabao Cup match between Wednesday and Bury, originally scheduled to take place at Hillsborough on Tuesday, was postponed due to the visitors’ difficulties.
“I had a bit of a dream and woke up the other morning thinking I was the saviour of English football,” he joked.
“I was disappointed I couldn't go to one match, but for Bury fans this could be their whole club gone, which would be an incredibly sad day for football.
“It would be great if some of the stars of football, like Gary Neville, who’s from Bury, could get involved and show Bury’s fans they have the support of the whole football community.”
Graham, who fell in love with Wednesday as a boy in 1990 after meeting an Owls-mad family while on holiday in Yugoslavia, as it was then known, said he has raised more than £25,000 for good causes over the years but this is his biggest charitable mission to date.
The Shakers, as Bury are known, have been given until August 23 to show the EFL their plan to pay off outstanding creditors, but the club say they remain confident of their survival.
Graham’s JustGiving page states: “We have two weeks to save a part of our football family. Don't buy a pie, Bovril, that extra pint, or a match programme this weekend. Instead donate that money to help pay Bury's debts off and ensure their survival in our football family!”
To donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveburyfc.