In what seems to be an extremely worrying and growing trend, Bolton Wanderers FC was recently on the brink of collapse.
The day after disaster struck for Bury – resulting in their dismissal from the English Football League (EFL) – it was confirmed that Football Ventures (Whites) Limited’s takeover of Bolton had been completed.
It was a nervy, potentially heartbreaking experience for the club’s fans and the community as a whole.
For 145 years, Bolton Wanderers FC has been at the backbone of the town in Greater Manchester. Thankfully, that clock will continue to run now. 145 years and counting.
Although the club has been saved, Bolton still faces potential, and likely, relegation to League Two at the end of this season. The Wanderers have already been docked 12 points this season for entering administration, putting them at a huge disadvantage from the start.
Things could have been a whole lot worse, though. Bolton fans will take a drop-down in divisions, if it happens, over the dissolution of their historic club any day.
As reported on the BBC, joint administrator Paul Appleton said of the deal:
“I’m delighted we’ve finally reached a satisfactory conclusion with the sale.
“I have every sympathy for the staff, players and fans who have been forced to stand by while their club was taken to the brink. I am delighted their loyalty, dedication and patience has finally been rewarded.”
Bolton and its fans knew what fate lay in store for them having watched as the EFL said goodbye to Bury FC on August 27th, despite rumoured late interest from potential bidders. The deadline had been passed and that was that. Goodbye Bury FC.
Football Ventures released their own statement after the takeover, saying:
“At times it has been difficult to keep our counsel but we took a decision to remain on the sidelines even when further damage was being inflicted by delays outside of our control.
“Now we are excited to begin restoring this magnificent football club to its rightful position, securing its future for the fans, the loyal club staff, and the players.”
A quick look at the Bolton Wanderers official club site now tells the story. It’s a club with a new lease of life, advertising season tickets for sale while looking to recruit safety stewards to man the sidelines at the University of Bolton Stadium this season.
According to a statement from the administrators, former club owner Ken Anderson had “hampered and frustrated” all negotiations.
Luckily for Bolton Wanderers, they were able to get past this, as highlighted by administrator Paul Appleton.
“Sadly, Mr Anderson has used his position as a secured creditor to hamper and frustrate any deal that did not benefit him or suit his purposes.
“Thankfully, with the assistance of the (Eddie Davies Trust) Trust and others, we were able to overcome this obstacle.”
Appleton, as you can see, had particular praise for the Eddie Davies Trust – one of Bolton Wanderers’ main creditors. All those involved with the Trust were “willing to find a compromise to save the club,” said Appleton.
Again, taking aim at the club’s former owner – Appleton said that the Eddie Davies Trust was determined “not to allow Bolton Wanderers to suffer any longer at the hands of Ken Anderson”.
Debbie Jevans, the EFL’s executive chair, commented on the work put in to get the deal over the line for the northwest club:
“These past few months have undoubtedly been challenging and, at times, fraught – never more so in the past few days – and I would like to thank all parties for their efforts in achieving the desired outcome.”
The week before the deal, when the situation at Bolton was bleakest, the club lost its manager Phil Parkinson, who resigned. Most of the club’s experienced professionals had also departed before Parkinson so the club faces a huge uphill task over the next couple of years.
Steps have been taken, though. Bolton-born manager Keith Hill took over and brought fellow Bolton-native David Flitcroft with him to fill the assistant manager’s seat.
Football Ventures’ statement on the takeover concluded with:
“… please be assured we intend to do all within our power to bring back a true sense of pride to Bolton Wanderers Football Club, which is the least the staff, fans, future generations of supporters and the community deserve.”
It’s not going to be easy but considering the alternative, it’s a challenge the club and community of Bolton are sure to meet head-on.