9:46pm Saturday 13th April 2013
By Craig Nelson
BURY’S board of directors have apologised to Oldham fans locked out of today’s crunch relegation battle at Gigg Lane and vowed to launch an investigation.
Estimates of between 300 and 500 Oldham supporters were unable to get into the ground, some who had bought tickets in advance, after the Manchester Road Stand allocated to visiting fans reached capacity.
“Bury Football Club offer our sincere apologies to those supporters who were unable to gain access to the stadium,” read a statement from the Bury board, released on the club’s website.
“The club have launched an investigation into the events prior to today’s game.
“Naturally, we are extremely disappointed to see supporters turned away and we shall be meeting with the club’s safety department and the police in order to ascertain just what went so badly wrong.
“We shall inform supporters of the outcome of that investigation in due course.”
The total attendance was 4,558 – Bury’s second-highest of the season.
The official figures show that 2,073 Oldham fans attended the game, not counting those outside the ground or who sneaked into the home stands.
The situation could well have cost Bury between £5,000 and £9,000 in lost revenue, not to mention the refunds to fans who bought tickets and were unable to watch the match.
That is money the club, which this week appealed for £1million to stay afloat, can ill afford to lose.
It is also a sting in the tail of what was already a terrible day for Bury, who were relegated to League Two after losing 1-0 following a 79th-minute goal from Oldham substitute Matt Smith.
While the police had to deal with disgruntled fans outside the ground, there were also ugly scenes inside, as Oldham fans celebrated their late winner.
A number of supporters stormed the pitch from the away end while around 30 Oldham fans were ejected from the Main Stand.
Serious questions were asked as to why the half-empty Cemetery Stand was not allocated to away supporters as well.
But commercial director David Manchester said that possibility had been discounted on safety grounds.
“We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” he said.
“What if we had opened both ends (to away fans) and then only a thousand turned up.
“I mean, we were supposed to be getting 3,000 when Sheffield United came here and how many did they bring? 900.
“You just don’t know until they turn up in a lot of cases.
“They (Oldham) hadn’t sold that many tickets. I think they sold 900 tickets and suddenly more than 2,000 turn up.
“You can’t legislate for that.
“It was suggested (that we open up a Bury end to the Oldham fans locked out) but it didn’t happen.
“There were concerns about safety issues.”
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