Bolton Wanderers are back in business on the pitch, but are we going out of business off it?
I've waxed lyrical recently about how happy I am with Parky's revolution, whilst like many other fans tried my best to ignore the club's financial situation. As the on-field situation has improved, we've closed our eyes and stuck our fingers in our ears, hoping and anticipating that things are getting better with regards to the club's finances. But what if they're not?
What if we're being led a merry dance?
Now, some football chairmen don't like independent journalists deviating from the party line of more official media formats. Some threaten legal action at the faintest hint of criticism.
Some use their contacts to drip feed false and inaccurate "exclusives" in an attempt to discredit independent websites. Therefore, the first chapter of this article (for legal reasons) is not going to talk about a real football club owner, but a fictional character.
Let's call him Mr Chairman.
Chapter 1: Meet The New Boss
Mr Chairman is a happy-go-lucky London type. He's dabbled in football agency, something that runs in the family. More on that later. He's been involved in the purchase of football clubs before, but always in the background. Now, he's on the centre stage. He's the boss.
Mr Chairman is English, but his business is based in a well known tax haven in Central Europe, known for its watches, chocolate and cheese. A country rated by the Financial Secrecy Index as the most secretive on the continent. A country which passed secrecy laws in 1934, making it a criminal offence to divulge the information of banking clients. A country in the midst of high-profile criminal cases of American tax evasion in 2008 (http://www.financialsecrecyindex.com/PDF/Switzerland.pdf).
Mr Chairman is the director of a company, a company with one shareholder. In fact, it's a company with one share, bought for one British Pound Sterling. Can you guess who the one shareholder is? If you need a clue, follow the link attached (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/6Oww_3ArARqDx_Q3vWw8anmyAAI/appointments).
That's enough about Mr Chairman, for now. Don't worry, we'll come back to him. Let's talk Bolton Wanderers. And Southampton. And Liverpool.
Chapter 2: A Tale of Two Takeovers
In 2006, Southampton were taken over by an individual named Michael Wilde. The current chairman of football at Bolton Wanderers brokered the deal. Southampton had just suffered a relegation, and were facing financial restrictions and spending cuts. They were to go into administration in the 2007/8 season, and the club found itself playing in League One. Thankfully, the club's stellar academy nurtured world class talents like Gareth Bale and (don't laugh) Adam Lallana, which facilitated the club's recovery.
The Wanderers chairman who was involved in this deal has been found previously by the Insolvency Service as guilty of "diverting funds receivable by a company into personal accounts, VAT discrepancies, and failure to cooperate with Receivers". In 2005, the same Bolton chairman was banned from being a company director until 2013. Thank God it's 2016, eh? (http://boards.fool.co.uk/more-dyor-on-my-part-required-but-anybody-else-11698608.aspx).
In 2007, Liverpool Football Club were in talks with Dubai International Capital. Vantis, the company one particular Wanderers chairman was linked with at Southampton, claimed they were in contact with DIC about buying Liverpool. Vantis, a financial advisory company, were advertising 30% of Liverpool Football Club for £50m. Leaked documents revealed that potential investors were promised a profit from re-sale within seven years of purchase. However, the Wanderers chairman's involvement in said deal is murky. In fact, DIC denied the involvement of Vantis whatsoever. It's hardly surprising: at the time, three of the senior executives at Vantis were under investigation for charges of tax evasion. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-425559/Anfield-deal-hit-leaked-plans.html)
Chapter 3: Blank Job Descriptions
Officially, the son of the current Wanderers chairman has no role at the club, or it may seem the case if you were to look at the club's website (http://www.bwfc.co.uk/club/staff-index/).
Twitter uses may have some idea of who I'm alluding to. The person in question is Lee Anderson, owner of the "super agent" Twiter account.
At the conclusion of the last transfer window, chairman Ken Anderson said that he would like to thank "Phil Parkinson, Tim Breacker, Lee Anderson, Paul Aldridge and Simon Marland for burning the midnight oil for days leading up to and including deadline day".
Ok, I know who Parky is. Breacker is the club's chief scout. Aldridge is on the club's board in an advisory role, though his CV boasts that he has previously worked at "West Ham United, Leicester City, Manchester City and, most recently, Sheffield Wednesday, where he spent five years as vice chairman and chief executive officer" according to the club's official website. Simon Marland is Football Secretary.
I can't see Lee Anderson's name anywhere on the club website.
Pardon my ignorance, but I'm not quite sure what Lee Anderson does. What role does a football agent have in our transfer business? Is there a conflict of interest?
My conclusion is this:
I have questions about our chairman.
I have concerns about the financial future of my football team.
I am concerned that the club's accounts are still yet to be published.
I have concerns that the financiers of this club are unknown, that Dean Holdsworth has seemingly been banished to the fringes.
I'm worried that the Q and A sessions with the chairman have been cancelled.
I'm concerned that, yet again, there are rumours of another takeover.
I have questions, I just don't know if they'll ever be answered.
Through fear of legal action, I'm stressing here that nobody is being accused of anything. All information has been found through research conducted online. All I've done is collect this information in one place for you.
I'd love your thoughts and feedback below.