The plight of Bury Football Club has been heavily covered in the both the sports and national news this week, as they become the first team since 1992 to be expelled from the Football League.
It’s a case of financial mis-management, poor governance from the Football League itself and a reflection of how divided the professional football game is in England, when the top Premier League clubs, or even just one of their players, could have dug Bury out of trouble so easily.
At the centre of it though is an owner who quite simply does not care.
Of course there were severe problems before Steve Dale took over at Gigg Lane, he is not solely to blame for Bury’s plight, but since purchasing the club for £1 late last year it is him who has taken them to the point of liquidation.
Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan summed it up well on TalkSport recently, when he stated that football club owners have put their hands in their pockets before they can take money back. Unfortunately Dale only saw an opportunity to take money for himself from Bury.
This is a man who had previously seen 43 of the 51 business he had been involved with end up liquidated, and just a few days before Bury were expelled from the Football League admitted he had never heard of them before taking over and would have no problems walking away.
Now supporters of The Shakers are left without the club that many of them will have supported for years and years, like generations of their families before them. It’s more than just not being able to watch their team on a Saturday though, it’s the social aspect; meeting up with friends, having a beer, the escapism.
Those are the main reasons why you will find many people at the Arms Park every other weekend, I know they are for me, and why Bury are featuring quite so prominently on a rugby blog, because it makes you thankful for people like Peter Thomas.
I wrote about Peter when it was announced he would be stepping down as Chairman after around 25 years involved with Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Blues, having ploughed a huge amount of his own money into the business over the years.
Since then he has written off nearly £4m worth of debt owed to him, as well converting nearly £10m of further debt to equity, an act of enormous generosity that is difficult to fathom for most. There are also rumours of him going into his pocket again, with tax bills and rental to be paid for Cardiff Arms Park.
It is for this reason that I write once again to express just how grateful supporters are for his continued backing of both Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Blues over the last two-and-a-bit decades.
Of course we haven’t agreed with everything and there have been disappointments; moving to the Cardiff City Stadium, considering allowing the WRU to come on board, failing up to this point to secure the future of the team at the Arms Park.
However, we have had some brilliant times, in Twickenham, Marseille and Bilbao to name three, and enjoyed countless high quality rugby players performing in Cardiff, both Welsh and foreign stars, who would not have signed but for the investment from Peter.
More than that though, we’re still here today because of him. A benefactor, and one who cares at that.
The devastation for Bury will be felt for a long time, and it’s worth remembering that as we return to the Arms Park this season to meet up with friends for a beer and support our team, win or lose.