On Christmas Eve 2015, Bolton were placed in a player embargo straitjacket. Over 18 months later and we are still well and truly in it. Bolton originally failed to comply with FFP obligations, namely not submitting accounts to confirm funding for the next 12 months and have been under embargoes of one form or other ever since.
Can anyone actually see this suddenly being sorted this summer? Especially when you include a takeover stalemate and a Blumarble/SSBWFC court case that could escalate etc etc? Anderson has made a number of statements to the media or via his Chairmans notes over the last 15 months about being 'shortly' out of an embargo, such as reported in the BN;
14th June 2016: Ken Anderson: Bolton Wanderers could have transfer embargo lifted by end of the month.
22nd March 2017: Anderson: Wanderers will be out of embargo by summer.
16th May 2017: Bolton Wanderers chairman Ken Anderson optimistic transfer embargo will soon be lifted.
The above are just a few picked from a quick internet search. Whether you believe Andersons statements were made in good faith or perhaps with unjustified optimism isn't really the point here. The point is that despite all expectations, we are still under an embargo and therefore a big dose of scepticism is surely needed for the latest announcement in the chairmans notes about progress being made towards its removal.
So if Bolton are staying on the naughty step for the fourth transfer window in a row, what are the consequences?
Firstly, the FFP embargo restrictions:
- Clubs are not permitted to pay (or commit to pay) transfer fees or compensation fees for professional players.
- Clubs cannot pay a loan fee to another club, they may only pay the player's wage (or a contribution towards it).
- Clubs can register players under the age of 21 for non-first team matches.
- For each individual window the EFL will seemingly make additional shit up on a whim.
So there you go.
For this window, the EFL are saying that Bolton are limited to registering just 23 of their professionally contracted players to play this coming season. The interesting thing here is that it seems that Bolton could therefore have 43 professionally contracted players, if by some bizarre reason they decided to. Surely if the EFL are trying to ensure their members clubs financial prudence, you wouldn't let them sign more than 23 players on professional contracts I.e. the same number as can be registered to play a game that season? But there you go. EFL la la land.
We do have some advantages though. Ken Anderson knows this world like the back of his hand and has a good relationship with the EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, who was incidentally invited as a guest for the promotion game against Peterborough. It is safe to say Anderson rightly made good use of this last season. One example is that on more than one occasion we were allowed to bring in a player to replace one allegedly with a 'long term injury' only for both to be in the team a few weeks later. Great stuff.
Another advantage, is if you want a team that can bring in the very best of a limited pool of players available for transfer/loan, the Andersons and Parky are your men.
The reality check is of course that this season we are in the Championship and not tin pot League One.
Even if we get the best of the freebies available, will they be good enough to supplement the current squad and help Bolton survive next season? You can't but help think that they won't.
So what about the current squad? Well so far we have 22 players on professional contracts. Four of those are development squad players who will presumably be left in no-mans land if the embargo is still in place on 1st Sept (as per Lavelle last season). So that leaves 18 players and therefore 5 spaces to fill. Maybe a departing goalie and cough Chris Taylor cough will free another two spaces but there are no guarantees of takers. The way I see it, we need a left back, defensive midfielder, left winger and two strikers. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Andersons will get players to fill those vacancies. The huge question though is; when you can't pay transfer fees or loan fees and can only offer rock bottom salaries, will those incoming players be good enough. Over the next 7 to 8 weeks we are going to find out but it seems bloody unlikely. But what do I know? I’m just an amateur journalist at an unauthorised website. Come on you whites...