Why Bury's relegation from League One is cause for concern
Becoming the first relegated club in English football is not what fans have paid to see. Unfortunately for Bury faithful, you don't always get what you paid for. The Shakers have been rattled for some time. Their focus for next season will be to play consistently solid football. But at what cost?
Player/manager Ryan Lowe has been in charge since January, following Chris Lucketti's departure. Combined, the two have produced just three league wins since November. Fourteen points from a possible 60 reveal how poor Bury's form has been. They have averaged less than a half-goal per game and conceded 1.5. Their quality has been lacking.
With their seven consecutive loss, all hope diminished. Relegation into League Two is confirmed. Bury last appeared in the fourth tier during the 2014-15 season. David Flitcroft, who now manages Mansfield, took Bury to a third-place finish. They had been in League One since.
Bury's squad numbers are alarming. Twenty-seven different players made appearances this campaign. Even with Jermaine Beckford leading the line, they weren't a powerhouse. A further four players didn't make an appearance, offering an impression of their finances. Many players will be released to stay within wage restrictions. Financially, the club will have to regulate with League Two rules. Next season will be even tougher than this one.
Dropping down is never easy. All but the richest clubs struggle to handle it correctly. Consistency begins with the club hierarchy and extends to the manager before it reaches the playing squad. Ryan Lowe will be hoping to keep his job but desperate times call for desperate measures. Chairman Stewart Day must decide quickly, even before summer, whether he wants a new face to take charge.
Since the Shakers' arrival in League One, they haven't particularly been a strong side. Their first season ended with a 16th-place finish. Last season, it was 19th. They never established a real footing or any momentum. You can only tread water so long before you drown. Losing half their matches was a reality check. Next season cannot continue the trend. A fresh start is needed. Many players will have to leave no matter what. From there, it's a matter of recruiting the right fresh faces to eliminate the losing culture and improve the quality of play on the field.
Bury's closest main rival Rochdale could also fall into the relegation trap. If the Dale fall as well, there will at least be some compelling fixtures next season. Oldham Athletic are a favourite opponent of Bury faithful, too. The Latic are also facing the drop. Will that be enough to keep fans coming to Gigg Lane?
The Shakers are the first English football team confirmed to be relegated this season. It's not something to inspire pride. On the other hand, pride is all Bury have remaining. That, and perhaps the opportunity to preserve Ryan Lowe's job, not to mention their own. The remaining four games will probably influence any decisions Stewart Day makes in that regard. What more motivation do the players need?