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Are Bolton Wanderers a Viable Going Concern? Part 2

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With Ken Anderson to become sole owner, what can we expect? The story continues.

Bolton Wanderers v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

During his first media interview back in April, we had our first proper glimpse of what our future was to hold. Anderson publicly stated the club plans, being:

1. A culling of the squad. This was indeed duly carried out in the summer, with over 20 players leaving, mostly due to contracts not being renewed. The development squad was hit particularly hard.

2. The imminent appointment of a manager from a short list of three. However, it seemed as though no one told Holdsworth about this short list! They couldn’t agree, so the list got continually added to. An absolutely cracking manager was appointed many many weeks later. To give the board credit, the appointment of Parkinson has been a master stroke, as there is no denying he is exactly what the club need. Other than the September hiccup, Parky is leading a promotion charge that most of us wouldn't believe possible last summer. On field it is very much happy days.

3. Ending the transfer FFP/EFL embargoes and oversight. These were never lifted by the end of last season as planned, but were manipulated enough to enable the club to have a hugely successful transfer window. Personal view I know, but Beevers has to be one, if not the best signing the club has made in the last few years. However, whilst restrictions are reduced, the embargoes are very much still in place today.

4. The imminent appointment of a board. Never happened. The remaining directors from the Davies era were let go and replaced with ‘consultants’. The board of two later became a board of one, once Holdsworth resigned from his Director of Football position. A frankly ridiculous situation that continues to this day.

5. The imminent submission of filed accounts to Companies House (the government regulator for these things). They were due, by law, by 31 Mar 16. At time of writing (30 Nov 16), they STILL haven’t been submitted for ALL six companies that make up the BWFC portfolio. A quite extraordinary EIGHT months overdue. An unheard of length of time from our clubs perspective.

The legal bit, take a deep breath before plunging on.

A club, as a business, has an obligation to comply with the filing of accounts and not doing so can and does result in additional embargo sanctions. Continued flouting of the rules can lead to individuals being disqualified as fit and proper. At time of writing it is reported that Companies House are progressing enforcement action with one and possibly two ‘notices’ sent.

The law doesn’t care about the change in ownership. It is the directors’ legal responsibility to deliver audited accounts to Companies House. The law expects the incoming directors to take adequate steps to comply. The outgoing directors retain responsibility for up to two years following termination (departure). In short the incoming directors would be expected to work an arrangement with the outgoing directors to deliver the accounts.

At a follow up interview with the BN in June, Anderson claimed that the accounts were ready for filing. This was very likely to be true, as there was absolutely no reason why production of them should be unduly delayed. Overdue by one, two, even three months is a bit naughty but not unheard of. Eight months? I don’t think so.

However, here’s the killer, when accounts are filed, the club need a positive ‘going concern’ statement. To get this, they must prove to the auditors that they can meet their financial obligations to keep the business going for twelve months, following the date of signoff. But hold on, wasn’t part of the EFL approval for the takeover, confirmation that a funded business plan to the end of the 16/17 season be in place? So why the delay? Surely the club can demonstrate this business plan to the auditor?

Back to the story. At the end of the summer, we then had the excuse of a change of auditors causing a delay, from Deloitte to A.N.Other cheaper auditors. A month or so later still, a further delay so that the club could double check that all was cool with the EFL, so that the embargo could be lifted when the accounts finally went in.

Now, of course, submission is delayed again and is reportedly dependent on Anderson getting sole ownership of the club, in order to recognise the supposed financial stimulation that the takeover will initiate. Incidentally, the BN mentioned that Deloitte will still be filing the accounts (scratches head...)

And what about this takeover?

We are told that unless Holdsworth ‘sells’ his shares to Anderson, the club will not have funds to trade in December. Wages wouldn’t get paid and the club would need to enter administration to protect it from outstanding debts to various creditors. An article in the BN stated that Anderson had to personally fund player wages at the end of November.

Where is the supposed EFL oversight? Why is this state of affairs a surprise? Wasn’t a full fit and proper check carried out by the EFL back in March to expose that funding would last just eight months? Why no statement on the current situation by the EFL? What, exactly, do the EFL actually do?

It was also reported that Anderson suggested an option that both he and Holdsworth jointly fund, from their own pockets, the cash shortfall until the end of this season. Not surprisingly, this was turned down by a less flush Holdsworth.

Lets back track here. Wasn’t part of the deal during the takeover in March that Anderson provided funds when needed? Otherwise why was Anderson part of the deal? What does he bring to the table if it isn’t additional investment? If minimal funding has been put in by Anderson, surely outstanding payments to creditors and club wages fit the ‘as needed’ funding criteria? Indeed, why do we have outstanding debts to creditors? Surely it is good business to pay bills on time if funding is available? Why should Holdsworth provide further funding if Anderson hasn’t provided his reported promised investment? Holdsworth never claimed that he could personally fund the running of the club and met his end of the bargain bringing in the Blumarble loan. Why does Holdsworth need to pass his shares to Anderson in order for Anderson to provide funds promised eight months ago?

Anderson states that he wants open and honest communication with both the fans and media. He certainly has been open, which is undeniably better than the stony silence of the previous regime. But honesty appears to involve a lot of smoke and mirrors. It seems to me that quick promises are made suggesting quick and complete resolutions to whatever issue, but, squad cull and transfers excepted, in reality they never seem to come to fruition.

In order for the new era to start, Anderson recently told the BN that all that was needed was for some final paperwork to be signed off by Deans Blumarble investors. This was expected to be complete by that evening or the following day, being the 30 Nov 16. That day has now ended and nothing has happened.

In the meantime, assuming that repayments of the £15m owed to Davies are further deferred, we have over £15m of hard debt to repay (£7.4m for Blumarble reported as due this summer), all fixed against club assets and are in addition still losing a reported £800k per month. Makes for grim reading.

Editor's note - We approached the club for comment and gave them the opportunity to present their side of the last two stories that we have published. No response was received.

We would always welcome such a response and would publish it in full once received.