Just five weeks separated Rovers’ pre-season friendly at Gigg Lane and Bury’s expulsion from the EFL.

That was the Shakers’ sole game in pre-season as a patched up squad fought valiantly, as did the club’s staff simply for the game to go ahead.

The result, a 3-0 win to Rovers, was inconsequential, given the feeling around the newly-promoted club who despite their troubles, felt like they were moving in the right direction.

Boss Tony Mowbray says there were signs of improvement in the off-field infrastructure at the ground, and admits ‘it’s been a very sad week’ for football as they lost their EFL status.

“We played them only five weeks ago and it almost smells of football under that stand,” the boss said.

“The dressing room was there but it had been extended so it showed me that they were trying to improve as a football club. The dressing room is quite tiny for a whole team but they had put a new door in, created a wall and stretched it out so that the players were in one bit and the staff could use a different area and the players had a new dressing room built underneath the stand.

“It showed me they were investing the club, but all that is irrelevant.

“But I do know the people who work for that club are football people and it’s been a very sad week.”

Mowbray was a Middlesbrough player in 1986 where, but for the intervention of Steve Gibson, the club could well have been liquidated.

And having grown up in a town and supported his local team as a boy, Mowbray knows the impact Bury’s removal from the EFL will have on the community.

“I know Paul Wilkinson and Dave Jones pretty well. I’ve managed against Dave a lot and Paul I used to play with for Boro,” Mowbray said of his sadness at this week’s news.

“I think for the people and the town of Bury, as I grew up supporting Middlesbrough, they will have grown up supporting Bury and it is a sad day.

“They have to try and take the positives out of a really negative situation and hope they will bounce back, wherever they have to re-start.

“I went through a liquidation with Middlesbrough in 1986, it did get saved at the last second by Steve Gibson and ICI consortium, but we didn’t play the first game at Ayresome Park because the gates were padlocked and you couldn’t get in.

“I haven’t really studied the repercussions but I hope that Bury will start again, they have a fanbase and they should try and enjoy the journey back to where they’ve got to get to.

“I’m sad for the people of Bury and that football club.”

Bury’s case has shone a light on football finance, as well as the governance of the game. Having played in an era where several clubs were facing hardship, Mowbray is unsure whether the cyclical nature of the game will see that come around again.

“For football, I’m not sure of the bigger picture. In the 1980s there were probably a dozen clubs in real financial difficulty, some survived, some didn’t,” the Rovers boss said.

“Are we getting to that point again where it’s coming round? Whether it’s because the big clubs aren’t spending money in the English leagues so the money isn’t filtering through because they are buying Spanish, English and Brazilian players, maybe that’s the case?

“Maybe this was an isolated case with the owner. How on earth he was allowed to take over a football club I’m not sure.”