The battle to save Bolton from bankruptcy has gone into added time last night after the League One club’s administrators missed a 5pm deadline to complete a takeover by the Football Ventures consortium.
Having started the season on minus 12 points, Bolton have been on the brink for months but it had been hoped that the 145-year-old club, one of the English Football League’s founding members, would be under new ownership by now.
That deal broke down on Saturday morning, however, forcing the league to impose the same final deadline it had set for fellow ‘crisis club’ Bury. Now, with that line in the sand behind us, both clubs are in grave danger of being expelled from the league, a move that would lead to their immediate liquidation.
In a statement released on their website shortly after 5pm yesterday, the club said: “Discussions are ongoing with all parties and a further statement will be issued later this evening.”
The Bolton deal was ready to be signed on Friday afternoon and administrator Paul Appleton and the EFL were still confident it would be completed the following morning. But that was when a disagreement emerged between former owner Ken Anderson and the club’s biggest creditor Fildraw, the family trust set up by Bolton’s great benefactor during their Premier League years, Eddie Davies.
Monaco-based Anderson, who was controversially allowed to take over at Bolton despite previously serving an eight-year ban from being a company director, has blamed the trust and its lawyer for the deal’s delay, with the other parties involved pointing the finger at him.
It is understood Anderson, who has charges against the club’s assets for debts of £2.5m, wants guarantees from Appleton that he will not be pursued by the administrator for any more money once Wanderers change hands.
The trust, which has a charge for £10m of debt, is unwilling to grant that request. Meanwhile Bury are now almost certain to be expelled from the English Football League after a proposed takeover by C&N Sporting Risk fell through, just 90 minutes before a league-set deadline for the deal to be completed.
The League One club’s owner Steve Dale was originally given until midnight on Friday to prove he could pay off Bury’s debts and fund the next two seasons or find someone who could.
Two hours before that deadline expired, Dale told reporters he had sold the club to C&N, a London-based sports analytics company set up by former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell’s son Rory Campbell and former Barnet caretaker manager Henry Newman, who met while scouting for West Ham.
This seemed to be the rescue Bury fans had been praying for and on Saturday morning the EFL extended its deadline until 5pm on Tuesday to give Dale and C&N more time to complete the deal.
C&N, however, was disappointed not to be given more time and yesterday issued a statement to say it simply cannot proceed — a decision that leaves the 134-year-old club needing a miracle. It was reported late last night that three further new bids for Bury have been passed to the EFL.