In a vain attempt to give our new owners more time to get in their stride, I've held off this article for a week or so now. If the stalemate in the boardroom continued, my plan was to publish something after the Fulham game.
However, after the revelation last weekend that Ken Anderson is searching for £3M funding, the right time is now. So, here are my five things as to why the club are, yet again, seemingly heading for trouble.
1. You need to have money...
A bit obvious, you'd think! Not in the wonderful world of football, it seems. Before I really get going with a rant, let me say that I hold both Eddie Davies and the Football League culpable for this. The master plan, which both Davies and the FL signed off, was that the SS-BWFC consortium had funding in place, with £7.5m to see out this season and £15m to cover the next. Funding that was enough to cope with the cost of Bolton Wanderers' inevitable relegation to league one. Both Davies and the FL said that SS-BWFC had shown them the money. In regard to the £7.5m, you'd think, some two months after the new owners took over, that they'd have finance fully in place for this season, a season that has now less than another two months to run.
Companies House says different. Once you get past the big red writing that says the club accounts are STILL overdue, you find that the only ‘new money' is £5m via Blumarble, investors whom, I am told, cover Dean Holdsworths commitment to the club. The Blumarble money was secured against the clubs assets pretty much as soon as the new owners took over.
Unless Anderson has put his £2.5m, promised some two months ago now, into the club coffers unsecured i.e. not against assets, which for anyone having less than £100m burning a hole in their back pocket, they would have to be mental to do, it seems that we have a joint owner who hasn't spent a bean. Now we find out that Anderson is ‘after £3m for further investment next season'. Really? All sounds a bit too convenient to me. Particularly as this guy has form with his premature board and manager announcements.
It's just totally incredible when you think about it.
The consequences are severe and unfortunately familiar. No cashflow equals unpaid wages, loan repayments and taxes. We are all know what happens next, the club is taken to court and either wound up or goes into administration. Even the best option, admin, means starting next season with a twelve point penalty!
Oh and by the way, until the accounts are signed off and future funding is proven, the transfer embargo stays.
2. Court case urban legend...
It has gone down in the annals of Bolton history that the sale of our club to Sports Shield, just 30 minutes before a court appearance with HMRC, stopped the club being wound up. Many people now believe that there were only two choices on that fateful day.
Therefore, their reasoning goes, no matter how shaky the finances of the new owners, Sports Shield still saved the club. Whilst being wound up was a very real possibility, it wasn't the only outcome and with hindsight, was the less likely of the TWO options available. Eddie Davies team actually had a plan to place Bolton into administration, IF Sports Shield hadn't come up with the money and I think that the judge would've more likely agreed to admin, than winding up our club.
Admin would've meant a totally irrelevant 12 point deduction and actually put Bolton into a far stronger position, in regard to our debtors and early release of our contracted high earners. The sensible choice was to go into admin, Eddie Davies ego ensured that choice wasn't taken.
I have a theory on this and it is just a theory. If the club went into administration, Sports Shield didn't have the money to take on other bidders. Sports Shield were the only bidders that relented to Davies future financial involvement. Eddie Davies would've most likely been unable to get tie-ins for future payments if the club went into administration, because admin means that Davies would've lost full control of running the club. So, to me, there is a mutual benefit for Davies and Sports Shield to avoid admin and agree a deal, despite it being based on very shaky foundations and not being in the best interests of the club.
Over the next two months we will see if I'm right or wrong.
3. You need one person in charge...
Back in 1995, Bolton's ‘White Hot' team went all the way to winning promotion into the premiership for the first time, way ahead of schedule.
Unfortunately, before the next season started, our talisman manager, Bruce Rioch and two of our best players, Jason McAteer and Alan Stubbs, had departed. We were in the shit. The board decided that to rectify the situation, two heads were better than one. So, in their wisdom, they decided to have two managers, Colin Todd, Bruce's assistant manager, and Todd's old defensive partner from the Derby glory days, Roy McFarland. It was a disaster. McFarland lasted 28 games and Bolton eventually got relegated, finishing bottom. The overriding lesson learnt from the experiment was that you need one person in charge to make the final decision.
We now have two joint owners. Ahhh, I hear you say, but Anderson is chairman, so has final say. Well in a normal boardroom, yes, but when the chairman and CEO are also the joint owners, owners trump chairman and if they don't agree, then things stop happening. The club need a single point of authority to make a final decision. You'd obviously want that person to both gather around them and listen to a good team of people, unlike a most recent incumbent..., but, its life that sometimes you aren't going to get a clear cut decision from a group of people. That's when the main person earns their money, puts their cock on the block and makes a decision. From what I've heard so far, it isn't happening at Bolton.
4. The owners need to work together...
From the many rumours being heard from many different people, Dean and Kev aren't getting on. And from what I also hear, that's putting it politely. Very politely. Rumour also states that they seem to be doing most things independently, rather than as a team. These could of course be aimless allegations that bear no basis in reality, BUT a good example is director Richard Gee.
AndersonPut on gardening leave by Holdsworth but then brought back by Anderson. Whilst it wasn't exactly high on my original agenda, for priority tasks I'd like to see happening at the club, I think Ken and Dean need to do a joint conference very soon, to show both that the rumours are unfounded and that they can and are working together.
5. Well run communication is everything...
Credit where credit is due, both Holdsworth and Anderson have taken the trouble to have full blown press conferences with local and national media, be it papers, radio or TV. Our beloved Davies would only lower himself to talk to Sky Sports and have a bizarre rant of total bollocks at the papers, when he left.
However, it is an unavoidable fact of life in the 21st century, that communications are handled with the utmost care. Ken Anderson's statements have been anything but that, when placed against fact.
I don't know about you, but I would have been quite happy with a statement that said that a board and manager would be put in place after the season had finished. Something that seemed to be the case when Holdsworth did his original statement, when he stated that Jimmy Phillips would be in temporary charge of the first team until seasons end, after Lennon's departure. However, 3 weeks ago, Anderson made the statement that by that week's end, second interviews for the final three prospective managers will have taken place and that a new board was to be revealed.
Additionally, Ken stated that the final 3 managers were from 50+ APPLICATIONS for the job. However, the three main candidates appeared to be Brown, Wilder and Sheridan, all of whom were on contract at other clubs, so hardly in a position to be applying for other jobs. Anderson then later stated that another five or six applications came in after they'd rounded it down to three, due to a ‘fluid situation' I believe his actual words were. Frankly, it all sounds a bit amateurish, almost made up as things progress. It's a boss's job to stop a ‘fluid situation' and take control of proceedings. I also understand that in the program notes for the Hull match, Anderson now states that a manager and board have been selected and are already working on plans for the summer. You then hear that no manager has yet been picked...
All in all, things are great are they? My view is that the honeymoon period is over after the final game at Fulham. Then it will most definitely be time for Holdsworth and Anderson to ‘walk the walk'. At the moment I'm not even convinced that they will last until when the new football financial year and season starts on 01 July. We will see.