Bolton Wanderers: Salvation & New Horizons
If anybody should ever be looking for a fresh take on the thriller-writing genre, they could do worse than look to Paul Appleton, the administrator who finally confirmed last night that the takeover of Bolton Wanderers had been completed and that the club has been saved. On Monday, Appleton took the stopper off the bottle marked “hyperbole” and told the world that the agreement for Football Ventures to purchase the club had stalled, and that the closure process for the club would have to begin on Wednesday should nothing confirming the club’s sale by then. Tuesday came and went, with the expulsion of Bury from the EFL and Bolton themselves receiving their own fourteen day Notice of Withdrawal from League sending a chill down the spine of all at The University of Bolton Stadium.
Yesterday evening, though, came the news that everybody had been hoping for. Football Ventures (or Football Ventures (Whites) Ltd., to give them their full name) had managed to finally get it over the line. Appleton’s statement reserved special praise for The Eddie Davies Trust and implied that there may be a special circle of hell reserved for the club’s former owner, Ken Anderson:
I would like to pay particular tribute to the Eddie Davies Trust and their legal team who, throughout this whole process, have been willing to do everything in their power to ensure Eddie’s incredible legacy was maintained and not sullied.
Even at the 11th hour when other parties were content to renege on their agreements, the Trust realised the very existence of Bolton Wanderers was at stake and were willing to find a compromise to save the club. It is a testament to their unflinching determination to do what was best for Bolton that we are able to complete the deal today.
The Trust were forced to constantly compromise their position in the face of circumstances and demands which were wholly unreasonable. This says much about their determination not to allow Eddie’s beloved Bolton Wanderers to suffer any longer at the hands of Ken Anderson.
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 Trust and others, we were able to overcome this obstacle.
Football Ventures, meanwhile, also saw fit to issue a statement of their own through the club website last night which hit all the right notes and offers hope that they understand the nature of what they’ve got themselves involved with, here. There are few other businesses which can command the new headlines that the stories of these two football clubs have over the last few days, and there’s a reason. These clubs, often down at heel, sometimes even a little tatty looking, mean a lot to people. Bolton Wanderers in particular have a special place in the history of the game, as one of twelve founding members of the oldest football league in the world. They deserve care, attention, and love.
The scale of the task ahead of the new owners, however, shouldn’t be underestimated. Bolton need new players as a matter of urgency, and the EFL’s transfer window closes on the 2nd September – just five days away, at the time of writing. It would easy to be swept along with the fervour of last night’s good news and spend, spend, spend in order to try and dig the club out of its spot adrift at the foot of the League One table, but it must be considered that the most important thing right now is for the club to get back on its feet. It would be good to see the League extend the transfer deadline by a few days in order to stop the club from feeling as though it has to rush into making decisions over rebuilding the squad, but EFL rules are EFL rules, and there is no guarantee that any extensions will be given.
In the meantime, Bolton remains a club that is clinging on, on the pitch, at least. The young players that have packed their team throughout their opening matches of the season have done what they could – earning so much as a point from their first four matches of the season was little short of miraculous, though two consecutive five goal defeats felt more like a return to what we would have expected, given the team’s lack of experience. The club needs a new manager too, following the departure of Phil Parkinson last week. It wouldn’t be completely surprising to see Parkinson return to The University of Bolton Stadium – he is, after all, a local lad, having been brought up in Chorley and having played 145 games just up the road at Bury – but with the club under new management, all bets are off, and literally. Even the bookmakers don’t seem to have listed anyone as a potential replacement for him at the time of writing.
So there’s a lot of work to do, but at least there is work to do. It should go without saying that this must never happen again for Bolton Wanderers, but the temptation to speculate in order to accumulate is always there and it’s hardly as though there haven’t been plenty of repeat offenders in the past, when it comes to football clubs finding themselves in a financial pickle. For now, though, there is hope and optimism at Bolton, and these are commodities that have been in short supply over the last year or two at The University of Bolton Stadium. It turned out that there were just enough people who cared just enough to keep the club alive. But this has to be the promised fresh start for the club, and not the start of another cycle with which Bolton’s supporters are already wearily familiar.