As the EFL prepares for its much anticipated kick off, the plight of Bury FC and Bolton Wanderers continues to highlight the financial vulnerability of lower league clubs.
Having already received a 12 point deduction before the season has even begun, Bury earlier this week was hit with the news that the club’s League One curtain raiser against MK Dons would be suspended due to funding issues.
The news was issued after Steve Dale, club owner, failed to provide evidence for the second time regarding his ability to pay the club’s debts, pay the staff and field a team. The EFL had previously given Dale a deadline of July 25th to show “proof of funds”, however, after missing that and the subsequently reorganised deadline of July 29th, the sanction was implemented as well and a threat of expulsion from the league was given.
As it stands, Dale now has until today to provide the relevant information or further suspensions may be implemented, as read an EFL statement: “As a result of not meeting Monday’s 5pm deadline, which had been extended, the EFL Board feels it has been placed in an unenviable position and, regrettably, has opted to take the reluctant decision to suspend Saturday’s opening day fixture with MK Dons. In addition the EFL Board, if not in possession of the necessary evidence by 12pm on Friday 2 August 2019, will make a determination as to whether to suspend Bury’s away fixture at Accrington Stanley on Saturday 10 August 2019.”
Similarly, Bolton Wanderers, Premier League mainstays between 2001 and 2012, has also been slapped with a 12 point deduction ahead of it’s EFL League One campaign following the club entering administration.
The Wanderers, who are currently recovering from financial disarray, started 2019 in controversial fashion, after it was revealed that the players had not been played for months. As a result, the club had to issue the EFL with proof of funds to ensure it’s inclusion in the league this season.
Unlike Bury, Bolton were able to provide the requested information, with it being understood that a loan deal has been struck with the Professional Footballers’ Association to cover the outstanding wages. As a result, the EFL released a statement in which it announced that the club would not receive a suspension and that it had been cleared to start its League One season on match day one against Wycombe Wanderers.
With this being said, questions still surround Bolton, specifically regarding it’s playing staff. This is due to the fact that, at the time of writing, the club only have seven senior players registered, with reports around the fanbase also seeming to suggest they will refuse to take to the field.
Notts County, who were relegated to the fifth tier of English football last season, are another club who recently endured financial issues and were even offered help by Italian giants Juventus. Fortunately for England’s oldest club, trouble was avoided, after The Magpies were bought by the Danish Reedtz brothers. Prior to the takeover, club employees had not received payment since May, however, after taking over on July 26th, the pair quickly paid the overdue wages.