The future of Bolton Wanderers football club, one of the founder members of the Football League, is on a knife-edge as it must find a buyer by a deadline of 5pm today or cease operations, after a bidding consortium failed to win the required support for its offer
The club went into administration in May, after being relegated from the Championship. In early July, a consortium known as Football Ventures agreed a deal to buy the club and an associated hotel complex.
At the time, joint administrator Paul Appleton of David Rubin & Partners, said: ‘We undertook a comprehensive bidding process where all interested parties were given an opportunity to make their best and final offer for the club.
‘Football Ventures made the highest offer by a substantial margin and were also able to show absolute proof and source of funding to match the requirements of the process.
‘They were also able to show the viability of a minimum two-year business plan for the club which was of the utmost importance.’
However, the following month this agreement came close to being derailed when Laurence Bassini, who had bid to buy the club before administration, was awarded a court order blocking the sale.
The court order was adjourned, and the work on the takeover continued, with the club issuing an optimistic update just before the August bank holiday.
The deal has now collapsed, with the administrators and club owner Ken Anderson unable to agree terms. The English Football League (EFL) has now indicated that unless a viable bid is secured by close of business on 27 August, it will begin proceedings to expel Bolton.
Appleton said: ‘At 5pm on Friday August 23, the completion of the sale of the football club and the hotel had been agreed by all parties and undertakings had been issued by all solicitors except those of Ken Anderson.
‘Devastatingly, on Saturday morning that deal collapsed. At this stage, there seems little point in apportioning blame because that makes no difference to the staff, players, management, supporters and the community who have once more seen their club taken back to the brink.
‘My team have spent the last 48 hours working around the clock, striving to get a deal back on track and trying to convince the parties still in conflict that the very fate of Bolton Wanderers depends on them finding a compromise.’
Managing body the EFL has warned it will consider giving Bolton 14 days’ notice of expulsion from the league if a sale is not concluded by the 5pm start of a board meeting today.
Appleton said: ‘The EFL have made their position clear by insisting on a 5pm deadline on Tuesday for a deal to be completed or give compelling reasons for an extension. They have also written to everybody concerned in the process to underline that sense of urgency.
‘In just over 24 hours, the club will have its membership of the EFL revoked. Over and above that, the club is currently not in a position to carry on trading and, as such, the process of closing down the company will commence on Wednesday.
‘This will ultimately lead to its liquidation, the expulsion of the club from the EFL and the inevitable loss of over 150 jobs. More than that, it will devastate a community for whom the football club is a beacon of hope and expectation.
‘I reiterate, unless there is a change of position from any of the parties involved, the process of closing down the club and ultimately placing Bolton Wanderers into liquidation will begin this week.’