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The Bolton Wanderers Money Situation

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An assessment of Bolton's debt, revenue and future.

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Many view the proposed takeover of Bolton Wanderers as being equivalent to placing a fresh sticky plaster on an axe wound. and for good reason.

Be it disbelieving eyes and puffing of the cheeks in a courtroom or, seemingly, given the delay, in the Football League boardroom, huge questions are being asked about just how can financial sanity be made to work in the Bolton madhouse. It's obviously not an easy question to answer when you have one company of anonymous offshore backers being replaced by another company whose backers hide behind NDAs (non disclosure agreements).

We can but try to patch together information from public accounts, press sources and of course, courtroom revelations.

So here goes:

The Debt

It was £172.9m in April 15. It was then reported at £185m in Oct 15. It was stated at £200m by the registrar in court in February 2016.

This huge figure does not however seem to include the £3.5m Nucleus Commercial Finance Ltd bridging loan that Phil Gartside organised in the summer or the unspecified NatWest loan against the hotel, both of which have been apparently paid off by the Macron 'retail' offices sale of around £4m.

It does, however, include the following:

  • £185.5m to Eddie Davies 'moonshift investment', of which he will waive £170m once the club is sold. Remember the statue we were going purchase on his behalf? Oh those happy naive days. I digress.
  • £3.3m to HMRC (Inc PAYE/VAT).
  • £2.5m to Brett Warburton.
  • £1m to another company that could possibly be Barclays, although I'm not certain.

Most of the remainder is covered by the £900k a month the club are losing in running costs (until the end of the clubs financial year on 30 Jun 16) which includes further payments that should be going to the taxman.

For simplicity, I estimate a debt of £30m that needs to covered for this season alone.

The sales and proposed investments, assuming that you are still with me and not swinging from a rafter, include:

  • £2.2m sale of Euxton to Huron Properties
  • £5.5m sale of the North car park to Prescott Business Park Ltd (PBP)
  • £7.5m sale of Bolton Wanderers to SS-BWFC (with Dean Holdsworth as Chairman) and Bruce Gordon who runs the venture capital fund Thames Valley Ltd in a 50/50% split. (Note that this £7.5m was to 'clear director and shareholder loans secured against club assets, plus outstanding wages'.)
  • £15.5m Eddie Davies 'loan' making him STILL Boltons biggest investor (and will guarantee him bonus payments off future TV and advertising rights etc, the bastard, allegedly...)
Going Forward

My understanding was that the Holdsworth business plan was for a further £12.5m to cover 5 years, which quickly became £15m to cover next season. This is, of course, still to be confirmed. In court, if memory serves correct, it was stated as 'another £15m from next season'.

Remember that the new owners investors are gambling on a high risk strategy that, if successful, will give high dividends. They're not in it for the love of Bolton.

Also don't forget that Wanderers are currently spend £10m a year on player wages and another £10m on non-playing staff, services and corporate costs which as already stay is running at a minimum £900k per month loss. This deficit will have to significantly reduce if the new owners are going to have any chance at all.

Finally, almost as a coup de grace, income will reduce by at least £5m per year for every season Bolton aren't in the Championship, of which the first £5m is almost guaranteed.

My Opinion

I think the takeover will happen and next Monday's court appearance will be the last, for the next 15 months anyway. Forget steel, considering the immense pressure Dean Holdsworth is going to be under, he must have a ball bag containing diamond orbs.

I think our youngsters will be signed up to long term contracts. However we will be susceptible to bids for them as we have to cover the high wage contracts of players who, in some circumstances, have years to run and no one who wants to buy them.

As Deans mate Vinny would say, the next year is going to be 'emotional'.