Back in May 2003, after possibly one of the most enthralling relegation battles in Premiership history, Bolton Wanderers condemned West Ham, "a team too good to go down", to relegation.
West Ham were a team that contained six future England internationals, which was just as well, because the club was in no position to be able to fund the following season. They needed to either find additional finance or sell players quickly. Their best player, Paulo Di Canio, had to be released on a free transfer. This situation wasn't exactly a secret to their competitors, who waited in anticipation to buy the clubs best players on the cheap, once lack of finance got critical. The situation was such that Hammers fans created a pressure group called Whistle, to highlight what they considered as their owners financial incompetence, to quote from Wikipedia;
"Brown has failed to address the debt situation. We're now a Nationwide First Division club and we are not generating the revenue to handle our current financial position."
However, West Hams luck was about to change, as a certain billionaire, called Roman Abramovich, had just taken over the Hammers local rivals, Chelsea. Abramovich was a man in a hurry to make an impact on English football and had a fortune to spend. His first purchase was Glen Johnson from West Ham for £6m in July 2003. Joe Cole quickly followed, going to Chelsea for £6.6m just a few weeks later. At a stroke, West Hams financial situation was stabilised, meaning that the club could move forward and compete in the Championship and eventually gain promotion back to the Prem, just two seasons later.
Fast forward 13 years and the similarities' with Bolton's current plight are obvious. Whilst our current owners are not to blame for the mess left behind by the Eddie Davies regime, they have claimed to be able to finance our clubs recovery. That statement is very much up for debate at the moment, amongst both us fans and in the general media.
Our new owners stated that they could get finance in place to cover the £7.5m needed to take us the end of this season (30 June that is) and £15m to cover next season (based on Bolton's costs at that time, remembering that we were losing around £1m a month).
We are very much reliant on the Companies House website to keep an independent track as to what funding has actually gone into the club. I don't think it is a great secret that both Ken and Dean don't have a few million hanging around that they can put straight into the club, without securing it against the clubs assets (which would then appear on the Companies House records). I don't blame them for not putting in unsecured money by the way, indeed I think they would have to be mad to do it!
Anyhow, there is no record of Ken putting anything into the club out of the £2.5m promised. I even hear that Dean's contribution is rumoured to be short the £5m initially indicated, although it must be stated that there is no proof yet that this is anything other than a rumour.
At this point, in the interest of impartiality and on checking the judge's comment on my court notes, I do now believe that Deans Blumarble repayment's start in July. Therefore, the rumour going around that Dean is late on said payments, are more than likely false.
Going forward to next season, with the staff and player releases, the £15m requirement to cover costs is reducing, but by not enough. As stated in the press, we have five players (Amos, Davies, Pratley, Spearing and believe it or not, Trotter) that are earning over £10k per week. Both Pratley (to 2018) and Amos (to 2019) are contracted past next season, which isn't good. Whatever those players state, if an offer does come in, the club will look to move them on and rightly so. We cannot afford salary extravagance anymore. The thing is, despite all attempts to move players on, every single one of the current senior squad could still be on our books, come the transfer window closing on 01 September.
Whatever, if costs cannot be reduced enough, our owners need to foot the difference by other means, as by all accounts, getting further loans seems to be an issue.
One possibility is to hit the academy and save £500k by dropping it to a category three set up and thus making it part time. Many will say that this is short termism in the extreme, with initial savings not covering future potential earnings from player sales. And that brings me to my main point.
Player sales could save the day for Ken and Dean, just as it did 13 years ago for Terry Brown. We have already had a report of £750k plus add-ons being offered by Arsenal for Rob Holding, with him being dropped for our last game of the season, to ensure he stayed injury free. This proves my point though that clubs will offer rock bottom prices to other clubs that are known to be struggling for cash. Bolton need an impatient Abramovich type to save the day.
In Ken Anderson, being an ex-agent, we perhaps do have someone who can get a good deal. As to whether he can get good enough deals on player sales to save our club, is another question entirely.
It seems to me that our owners have a high risk strategy in trying to fund the continued running of Bolton Wanderers. If they fail, and more importantly, if they fail and don't have enough in the pot for the club to go into administration, then our next court appearance could will mean being wound up as a very likely prospect. It's going to be a tense summer off the field for Bolton.