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Will owner squabble upset Parkys six P’s?

After getting Phil Parkinson signed on the dotted line, Ian discusses as to whether the club owners will play further masterstrokes or rip defeat out of the jaws of victory. This article was originally written in mid June and now rescued from the LOV vaults (I forgot to publish it...).

BPI / Paul Currie

Whatever you think about the state of our club at the moment, you cannot deny that Dean Holdsworth and Ken Anderson played a blinder getting, not just the rated Phil Parkinson, but also his entire coaching team, signed up to take Bolton forward next season. Compensation paid to Bradford as well. Minimal though it was, money has been spent by the club. Who'd have thought!

An additional factor, that can only be assumed, is that by being able to pay for new staff now, suggests Bolton have enough money in the bank to survive until the end of June and pay off that final huge player wages bill, before the 21 players given their marching orders are released. (We've since reached the end of July with the Holding sale no doubt keeping the club going till Autumn.)

Whilst Goddess Fortuna smiled on Bolton, by dropping Parkinson's availability on our owners in-tray two weeks ago, they did embrace it and didn't let the opportunity pass them by. Indeed, rather the reverse, they took full advantage of it. Anderson seemingly managed to fool everyone by keeping the focus on the equally rated Adkins and Cotterill, whilst he wooed Parkinson. The advantage Parkinson, ‘Parky' has over the others is that he's local and less likely to split fan opinion. I rated Cotterill, someone else who also follows the same footballing ethos as big Sam, but many Bolton fans didn't and he wouldn't have got as good a honeymoon period as Parky because of this fact.

Parky ticks all the Bolton manager wish list boxes for League One. He is exactly what we need and coupled with the very impressive way he came across at his first press conference, I'm well chuffed with his appointment. A mantra from my forces days was the six P's. Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Every statement that came out of Parky's mouth reflected this ethos and was what we wanted to hear, particularly as it seemed to echo a certain Sam Allardyce and remind us of better times. (It has to be said that the following 5 weeks has reinforced this initial view.)

But...

Yes there's always a ‘but' when we talk about our club. One blinder doesn't and more importantly shouldn't, paper over the cracks in our clubs running since the new owners took over. In my opinion, there is still a very high chance that our owners' actions can scupper all Parky's plans, rendering them ineffective.

Almost 13 weeks to find a manger. THIRTEEN WEEKS! There was also a number of slightly embarrassing ‘nearly there' statements, from Anderson, along the way. Co-owner squabbles on who to pick, no doubt one cause for the delay and more on that later. It should be noted that, if the Parky opportunity hadn't arisen, one of the probable winners as our manager, Cotterill, has been available since the search for the next manager started. Our season finished on 07 May, over one month ago. The new manager should've been in place by then. Whatever players Anderson and Holdsworth have had in mind, unless it's done to fit in with the managers plans, it's almost irrelevant. How much impact this lost time and lost player opportunities has on next season's squad, only time will tell. (It's interesting that the players brought in so far have mostly been Parky picks. So much for the owners suitable players list.)

There was one thing that REALLY bugged me about Friday's press conference and that was the solitary chair facing the assembled media. Is this me being picky, overly critical, not giving the new owners a proper chance? I don't think so in all honesty. This was the perfect opportunity for our owners to throw the rumours, slurs, sceptism and in many cases downright abuse, back in the faces of all us ‘moaning' fans, who've given the owners a rough ride these last few months. Even under normal circumstances, one of the owners, in their boardroom capacity, should've been there to celebrate a genuine coup for club. Due to the fact that it is an open secret that the owners are at war, they both should've been at the press conference, smiley faces to all, to ram the accusations down our throats. I've been following Bolton and football in general since 1978. My memories of those long ago days are from childhood and are hazy. But. Hand on heart, I can say that I have NEVER witnessed a new manager press conference, where the only person to turn up was the new manager. It was totally bizarre and I'm disappointed that more wasn't made of it in the media. Whilst I was totally enthralled by Parky's comments and desperate as everyone else to bask in some actual good news, part of me was constantly thinking, where are the fucking owners/board. (Afterwards Anderson claimed that his absence was due to having to deal with an unexpected deadline for buying back the Macron offices at cost price. This may have been the case but I stick by my point. They should've delayed the managers press conference that Friday until the following day or indeed the Monday. Huge opportunity missed.)

If Parky is to succeed, the owners need to find a way forward. Both need to either sort their issues out so that they can go forward together, or, one or the other, to call it a day and bugger off. There are some major tasks ahead of them and they need to be fully focused on resolving them in order to ensure that Bolton don't have a repeat of last season. (It is interesting that since this article was written, Holdsworth has left his CEO post, then both joined and left as Director of Football. It seems that we have a winner in the owner battle...)

Once they've sorted out their infighting, the following needs to be done:

1. Get the transfer embargo lifted by submitting a Financial Fair Play (FFP) return for the 2014/15 season to the Football League (FL). This HAS to both submitted and approved by the FL before the transfer window opens on 01 Jul, to ensure that Parky's plans aren't impacted. (With the four incoming players, it can be assumed that the FFP return has been submitted.)

2. Submitting to Companies House the overdue filed and audited accounts for club for the 2014/15 season. There is a legal requirement that these are to be submitted by 31 Mar 16, although it seems that many clubs take advantage of the unofficial 3 month grace period generally given by Companies House. (However, the unofficial 01 Jul 16 deadline has been and gone and we are the last of the 2014/15 season Championship clubs to not file accounts. If it isn't done very soon, then we will have a 3 month notice served against the club. If this final deadline is missed, it will result in the club be liquidated and the assets becoming crown property. More importantly though is that the FL can possibly take a very low view of the situation and provide hit us with another total embargo.)

3. Then there is the ‘other' transfer embargo on Bolton by the Football League. Remember the statements from the new owners that sign-off from the football league was proof that they had the finances in place to take Bolton forward? Well, it was disclosed at court, during the HMRC battle, that the FL had only granted provisional approval. The mandate for this was that the club had to provide the FL with monthly updates and management accounts plus responses to ad hoc enquiries. The upshot was that an embargo (type never really confirmed) on player trading was put on the club until August 2018! How to resolve this? Anderson actually putting some bloody money into the club will be a huge step in the right direction.

4. Player transfers. To be fair to Anderson and Holdsworth, I'm with them on this. As Parky stated, player sales will fund incoming transfers. And so it should be as we are in no position to loan more money to pay for new signings. Off-loading preferably the non-performing high earners is obviously the preferred way forward. However, it is more likely that our more sellable youngsters such as Holding, Clough and Vela, will be sacrificed to enable Parky to both balance and strengthen our squad for the coming campaign. This is of course assuming that player sales funds aren't needed to help keep the club running. (Well Holding has gone for allegedly £2,5M up front...)

So, there you go. On a positive note, Anderson's plans to buy back the Macron Offices and the North Car Park gives some hope that he's not bluffing in regard to finance being available. On the other hand, the Parky appointment shows that what's being stated by club official ‘sources' isn't exactly what's happening behind the scenes. Whether this will continue to be a good thing, such as the new manager appointment or another ‘Gartside' false promises episode, only time will tell.