Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton fears other clubs will follow in Bury’s footsteps

Bury's EFL membership was withdrawn on Tuesday
Bury's EFL membership was withdrawn on Tuesday

Joey Barton was saddened by Bury’s exit from the EFL and the Fleetwood Town boss thinks it will not be the last if clubs do not take a social stand and stick together.

The Shakers’ EFL membership was withdrawn by the governing body late on Tuesday night following the collapse of a takeover.

It means only three teams will be relegated from League One, and for Barton, the collective need to club together to ensure it never happens again.

He said: “We need to draw a line in the sand and say either ‘this does not happen again and protect everyone’ and take a social stand on it.

“Or we say ‘OK this is what the future holds and it is everyone for themselves’.

“If I was going to hedge my bets on that, just knowing the world we live in at this moment in time, I think everyone is out for themselves.

“Unfortunately I think Bury will be the start over the next decade or so of multiple defaults and expulsions from the EFL.

“Hopefully I’m wrong but that is what it looks like we are heading towards.”

Barton predicts a future that will see a small number of teams with no relegation or promotion.

Nevertheless, when asked if Bury’s expulsion came as a shock to him, he said: “Yeah, I think it always does.

“It is sad, really sad for everyone connected with the game in this country.

“It is a sad precursor for what will be a more regular occurrence if we do not start to protect some of our football clubs further down the pyramid.

“There is an argument whether 90-odd professional clubs is sustainable in a country of 50-60 million people.

“But also it has survived for a long period of time. There are clubs that are at the actual fulcrum of their community and mean a lot to local people.

“The globalisation of our main league in the Premier League is causing issues further down the pyramid.

“It is sad because the game probably has not had as much money in it ever in this country but, like anything, it is going to the top of the pyramid.

“Is that right? Is this football’s version of Darwinism? Is this what was always going to be inevitable?

“Are we going to end up with a kind of American sports model with 20 clubs, no promotion or relegation, all owned by billionaires from all over the world?

“If I was them and I was putting the money they are putting into football franchises as they will probably be called in a short space of time would I want promotion and relegation? No.

“You would not want to be away from the TV money or the big players because that is what drives the tremendous income they are getting.

“But for 150 years in this country we have not had that.

“We have had a football pyramid that has been healthy, vibrant and has sold that fairytale that you can start out like Fleetwood Town did in an obscure non-league regional competition and get to the big leagues.

“Not just Fleetwood, there are many football teams that have done that right up and down the country.

“We really are in danger of losing the romanticism that is attached to football in this country if we do not protect the kind of smaller clubs and grassroots side of football.”