The chairman of Everton offered to make a personal donation in the region of £1m to help Bury FC during the club’s recent battle to stay in the football league, the BBC can reveal.
Bill Kenwright made the pledge when the Shakers were locked in last-ditch talks over their future.
However, such gifts would be forbidden by Premier League rules made to prevent conflict of interest between clubs.
Bury were expelled from the league in August amid financial difficulties.
The decision came after the club’s first six fixtures of the season were suspended while the English Football League (EFL) awaited evidence of how it could pay creditors, and a takeover bid collapsed.
It became the first club to have its league membership withdrawn since Maidstone United was liquidated in 1992.
EFL chief executive Debbie Jevans said Mr Kenwright’s gesture was appreciated but said it would have been impossible under current Premier League rules.
This was despite the offer being for a gift from theatre producer Mr Kenwright’s personal fortune rather than Everton’s club finances, and not intended as a bid for a stake in the club.
Ms Jevans said: “He was great. [Everton] do a huge amount of work in the community.
“The Premier League clubs do a huge amount through solidarity payments and parachute payments, but a football club owner cannot have interests in more than one club.
“If there was an opportunity for help through the community work that happens at Everton, and they do a huge amount, then there is a conversation to be potentially had, but that is very different to Premier League clubs having an involvement in a second club.”
Other non-financial offers of help were accepted, including Manchester City allowing Bury to use the club’s Carrington training ground rent-free for five years.
Earlier this month a prospective new buyer for Bury ended their interest after doing due diligence, according to supporters’ group Forever Bury.
The club, which plans to apply for a place in the 2019-20 National League, is currently facing a winding-up petition and could be liquidated.
Both Everton and Mr Kenwright declined to comment on the chairman’s offer.
You can learn more about this story and others on Inside Out North West, at 19:30 GMT on Monday 28 October