Bury FC make the short trip to Tranmere Rovers tonight knowing a point will seal promotion back to League One at the first attempt.
After defeats for both MK Dons and Mansfield at the weekend, a draw will be enough for the Shakers as their two closest rivals play each other on the final day.
Second-placed Bury will be backed by around 2,000 supporters in Birkenhead who will be hoping to see history repeat itself with Bury having secured promotion on a dramatic final day at Prenton Park back in 2015.
However, events behind the scenes have blighted a successful season with the club embroiled in financial difficulties. Owner Steve Dale put the Shakers up for sale last week less than six months after taking over. Dale recently indicated that the Shakers need £1.6 million to cover costs until the end of May and also stated that the severe trouble the club was in when he took over from the previous owner Stewart Day turned out to be far greater than he envisaged at the time. Bury face a winding-up petition in the High Court next month over monies owed to HMRC.
Bury boss Ryan Lowe felt that whatever happens his side have written themselves in Bury folk law by refusing to let the club’s off-field problems scupper their promotion bid, telling the Bury Times. ‘I’ve told the lads that whatever happens, wherever they go and whatever we do in life, they’ll be remembered – at the club, by me as the manager.’
Lowe’s men will face a Tranmere side that have also got it all to play in what is sure to be a red hot atmosphere on Merseyside. If Rovers win, they will go into their final game away to Crawley on Saturday with their hopes of automatic promotion still alive after a great run of results in the second half of the season.
Lowe and his players deserve enormous credit for their performances this season in the face of the turmoil off the pitch at Gigg Lane.
However, the promotion, if confirmed tonight or at Gigg Lane on Saturday against Port Vale, will be a bittersweet triumph for many of their supporters.
Shakers fans will be concerned over not just what sort of a team they will put out in League One next season but whether they will have a club to support at all.
Players such as Mayor and O’Shea can leave for nothing in the summer unless they find a new owner willing to clear up the mess and build for the long-term.
Whatever happens, Bury will need to find a way to exist sustainably in the future.