Bury supporters have had an awful summer – their side have been docked 12 points, had their first game of the season suspended and face expulsion from the Football League because of their financial troubles.
But while Shakers fans will hope they can prove the bookmakers wrong and survive in League One, they may also have their eye on another team 300 miles away.
Plymouth Argyle might not be the obvious second team for Bury fans, but after the summer the Devon club have had you could understand why Shakers supporters might keep an eye on their results.
First, the Pilgrims appointed Bury boss Ryan Lowe and assistant Steven Schumacher, and then came five former Shakers players and even the physiotherapist.
“We’ve been there and done it,” said former Bury forward and new Argyle attacker Danny Mayor.
“We had a great season last season and I know people are saying we’re Bury South, but it’s a credit to Bury, it’s a credit to the manager and what he did for a club that got relegated and the way we went back up.”
Lowe takes advantage of Shakers’ struggles
Lowe’s recent record in the fourth tier has given heart to Plymouth supporters who saw their side relegated from League One in May.
Having taken over Bury when they were bottom of League One in January 2018, Lowe could not save the club from relegation that season.
But he guided them straight back into the third tier in May as the Shakers finished second in League Two and scored more goals than any other side in the division.
“It wasn’t that we got promoted, but it was the way we got promoted,” added Mayor, whose 12 goals last term were a season-high tally for the 28-year-old.
“People say you can’t get out of League Two passing it, but we did. We were very attacking – you can see from the scorelines.
“I don’t know how many times we scored three or four goals plus in a game – it was the way we went about it last season and hopefully we can do the same here.”
Mayor had spent six seasons at Bury, but Lowe’s connection goes back even further, having had three spells as a player before joining the coaching staff.
And given Bury’s financial struggles – the players were not paid in the final three and a half months of last season – many of those who worked under Lowe jumped at the chance to rejoin him.
“These are players who someone else would have taken regardless of whether Ryan Lowe’s the manager of Argyle or not,” Lowe told BBC Sport.
“But, for me, these are players that I can trust, and in football it’s a big thing, trust.
“When you’ve got people who’ll run through brick walls for you, why wouldn’t you take them?”
Continued concern for former colleagues
While Plymouth are on the up, Bury’s future is in the balance – the club went into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) last week to help settle some of their debts.
But Bury’s EFL status is under threat. The club failed to meet Monday’s deadline to show evidence of financial viability – meaning they will not start the season this weekend – with their second match of the campaign, at Accrington on 10 August, also in the balance.
It is a situation which is troubling for Argyle’s former Shakers, although one they no longer have any influence over.
“There are still good people who are there that I’ll always respect and there are certain people there who whether they should be there or not is a different matter,” said Lowe.
“Bury will always have a place in my heart for what I’ve done there as a player and as a manager, but you have to move on.
“These people who followed me weren’t getting paid, and that’s the reason they’ve left.”
Mayor was part of Bury’s last two promotion-winning sides and still keeps in touch with his former team-mates.
“I was sad to leave and I don’t think any fans deserve it, but the Bury fans, more than any, don’t deserve it,” Mayor added.
“They should be looking forward to a good season in League One, but instead they’ve got all this stuff off the field and it’s difficult for them to look forward to what should be an exciting season.
“We were a tight-knit group – we’ve still got a WhatsApp group and we still talk.
“The players don’t deserve what’s happened. Everyone had a great season and to get promoted after not getting paid for three and a half months goes back to who we wanted to do it for. We wanted to do it for each other, for the fans and for the manager.
“I hope it gets sorted because none of those lads deserve what’s going on.”