Sheffield Wednesday fan 'gutted' as fundraising appeal fails to save Bury FC
A Sheffield Wednesday supporter says he is 'gutted' after his fundraising appeal failed to save Bury FC, but he has thanked fans across the country for their support.
Graham Butler launched the crowdfunding campaign because he said he couldn't imagine his beloved Owls no longer existing and remembers the dark days when that was a very real fear.
More than 300 fans of 42 clubs across the country donated to the cause, raising over £4,000, and his efforts made him a hero to some Bury fans despite ultimately proving to be in vain.
The beleaguered club which had been in League One was expelled from the English Football League after a takeover bid collapsed and league chiefs said they were not given evidence the outfit had financial viability.
Graham, a 37-year-old father-of-two who lives in Dorset but regularly travels hundreds of miles to watch Wednesday at Hillsborough, said: "It was always a long shot but it's not achieved what I hoped it would and I'm gutted for all the Bury fans.
"The £8m target was a pipe dream but I hoped we'd raise enough to pay staff and keep the club going until it could sort out its finances.
"It was great to get donations from so many fans, and some Bury supporters told me the media interest perked up after the appeal, but if everyone who attended a Premier League or EFL match on the opening weekend had given just £1 that would have raised £800,000, which might have been enough.
"I'm also a little disappointed that it didn't get the celebrity backing which might have made a big difference, despite my tweeting lots of past and present players, including the likes of Gary Neville, who's been all over the news bemoaning the club's fate since it was expelled. The only player who retweeted the appeal was Lee Trundle.
"Bury may have been expelled from the league but hopefully they'll continue to exist in some shape or form."
Graham has now closed the page and said JustGiving had told him all donations would be refunded to backers' accounts within five to 10 working days.
He had considered donating the money to help start a phoenix club - a new club set up to keep the name alive, as Wimbledon fans did so successfully - or giving it to a good cause like The Children's Hospital Charity in Sheffield.
But he said this was not possible as donations had been made with the goal of keeping Bury in the league.
He added that he was touched by the response of Bury fans to the appeal.
"One Bury supporter told me the club was energised and galvanised by my efforts, which meant a lot, and I had many fans getting in touch and inviting me to the game against Doncaster, which would have gone ahead on Saturday had the club been saved from expulsion," he said.