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A Guide to Bolton's Administration Situation

We take a look at the current situation at Wanderers, and what slipping into administration could mean for the club

The threat of administration could be looming for Bolton Wanderers
The threat of administration could be looming for Bolton Wanderers
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
The term administration is being bandied around a lot at the moment, as the situation regarding potential takeover bids for Bolton Wanderers remains unclear.

The key fact is that Wanderers have an outstanding tax bill of £600,000 which, if it remains unpaid, will leave Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs with no choice but to issue a winding-up order to the club. Rumours are abounding that club staff have not or will not be paid, after senior players were not paid in November and seems unlikely to be paid in December - especially as the club is stripping back all costs, including bringing to an end the tradition of putting players up in a hotel and arriving together on a coach before the Cardiff game at the weekend.

But if the worst comes to the worst and Wanderers are unable to raise the required funds and did slip into administration, what would that mean for the club?

What is administration?

A club goes into administration when it can no longer pay its bills having been issued with a winding-up order - better known as being insolvent.

In this situation an administrator is appointed by the courts to take over the running of the business, while putting together a restructuring plan, to protect the club from the people or companies they owe money to until a new owner is found.

During the administration period any individual or company the club owes money to will not receive it, which means that any suppliers could go unpaid for months until the process comes to an end. This could include players and club staff.

Sellable assets

A key role of the administrator is to ensure that the club is able to pay back as much of the money it owes to those individuals or companies as possible. This could mean selling off any of the club's assets, including players, ground, training facilities, merchandise - basically anything that could make money, will be sold. In the worst situation, if the club has no assets and no way of raising money, it can then be placed into liquidation which it means it can be shut down.

In Bolton's case insolvency seems extremely unlikely given the rich assets available. Options available to any potential administrator could include selling the Macron Stadium - although how much of the stadium is owned by the club I'm not sure - its top level training facilities at Euxton, any players that other clubs may want, all the stock in the club store, and any other sellable assets.

Once these assets have been sold off, the wages of players, management and club staff are dealt with as a priority, although they may still face long delays in payment.


A football league club that enters administration will immediately be docked 12 points - which was bumped up from 10 points at the start of this season. As the table stands, this would leave Bolton on 0 points, 16 points from safety and doomed for League One.

The points deduction is designed to stop clubs being financially mismanaged, going into administration as a result of outstanding debt, then restructuring and continuing to borrow more money. It was introduced in 2002 after the collapse of ITV Digital, which went bust still owing the Football League and its clubs £180 million, which led to some clubs going into administration.

Eight Football League clubs have been placed into administration since January 2010, including Portsmouth twice in 2010 and 2012, Crystal Palace in 2010, Plymouth Argyle in 2011, Port Vale in 2012 and Coventry City in 2013. Aldershot Town were the last team to go through the procedure in 2013, with debts of more than £1 million just days after they had been relegated from the Football League. The club found new owners, then agreed a deal with Chelsea for the Premier League club's youth teams to play matches at Aldershot, and is currently playing in the National League.

Next steps

Wanderers and Trevor Birch, who has been appointed to handle all negotiations with potential buyers, will continue to speak with the several rumoured interested parties, who must prove they have the cash to save the club from entering administration.

Main concerns from the club seem to be over the potential buyers' access to funds, as all apparently require some form of borrowing to get a deal done. The next few days will prove vital in ensuring the future of the club, although it does seem increasingly unlikely that a valid buyer will be forthcoming.