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Why Monday’s fan protest matters

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Some fans think any protest will be a pointless damp squib that Ken will just ignore. I beg to differ.

Bolton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Ken Anderson’s latest Chairmans Note (at time of writing, as there will undoubtedly be others) announced that Supa John McGinlay was banned from the press box, effectively for having the temerity to criticise Anderson’s running of the club. It also contained haughty points re paying off the latest HMRC winder, significant football creditor debts and resigning two players, thus suggesting that a renewed EFL registration embargo has been put to bed. Yes, with the latest EFL instalment (an estimated £2.3m) sat in the bank account, Ken was in confident mood. Very much a ‘we are back to business as usual, nothing to see here’ message and ‘oh, we’ll be signing players soon’.

But that’s the thing; is this the reality? We had a player strike after late salary & non bonus payments last July, saved by the first EFL instalment payment in the August. That was followed by a close shave with admin via Blumarble, saved with just days to go (despite our owner knowing about the payment date for 12 months) and only thanks to another and what turned out to be final £5m handout by the late Eddie Davies. Recently we’ve had to have the PFA stepping in to assist both the November and December player salary payments, before the January EFL instalment payment provided money to pay the built up debts. Is there enough money to fund the club before the final smaller EFL instalment payment in April? Same question before the first EFL instalment of next season in August and so on and so on.

What is being done to pay off the Eddie Davies bridging loan expected to be due in early March? It begs the question as to whether our club is being run whilst effectively insolvent. Is there committed and unconditional funding available in a business plan for the rest of this season? Because that does not seem to be the case so far!

And then you note that both sets of auditors covering the three previous accounts, have not being able to form an opinion on them, because of ken’s inability to prove that sufficient funding is available for the coming 12 months. Will it be the same for the next set of accounts due by 31 March?

Does all the above not concern the EFL, especially in light of the numerous defaults and winding up threats? If not, why not? What happens if the club does not have enough funding to complete the season?

The EFL seem to be mute and ineffective or powerless to intervene in. A meaningful manner. We had the case of our club buying players last summer, who one other club owner suggests we do not have the means to see the payments through, goodbye Doidge, and yet we have Anderson hinting at still further signings, quote “By the time the transfer window closes, I’m confident that we’ll have a squad capable of staying in this division”.

Is this really astute business in action or an owner operating in a league he has no wherewithal to compete in? And this is just the financial aspect.

Great play was made by Anderson that he was Bolton’s sole provider of facts and that everyone else who disagreed was “well wide of the mark” or “misinformed”.

Anderson would normally have a good point in that he is the club owner and so obviously be best placed to know those facts. Most fans have given him the benefit of doubt on this point until recently. But this stance needs to be backed up by credibility to be of any worth. As stated in the national press, Anderson has a business history that is chequered to put it politely. In a recent communication he stated that a “source” had informed him that two Baronesses were not ST holders and that he lived in Monaco, not Switzerland.

Very quickly it was shown that the Baronesses were long time ST holders and that his latest company accounts stated he was a Swiss resident. The importance of these revelations is not the point. The point being that some of those ‘factual’ statements made by Anderson, ones that could be easily checked, were shown to actually be false or highlighted the fact that company documentation was incorrect. So then what about the ‘facts’ that cannot be easily verified? He cannot really complain as to why his credibility is being questioned.

And there’s the other facts we know? The seemingly continual and very embarrassing public spats through our clubs communication channels with whoever has upset him. Very much he said, she said, but the one constant in all of them is Anderson being one of the protagonists. It’s a fact we have a high turnover of players, mostly signed on short term contracts. You can only question as what impact this has had to the clubs identity? You have all seen our performances. Even when wearing the priciest rosy glasses, you cannot deny that they have mostly been awful to watch and our performances have relegation written all over them.

It’s a fact that Anderson publicly stated that we were likely to go into administration, whilst knowing he had a bridging loan from Eddie Davies to cover the Blumarble debt. There are the facts of late salary and bonus payments, a strike, winding up orders, media representatives being banned from using the clubs media facilities or contact with the playing staff. The stadium offices were never repurchased, a club board was never put in place. We have had a consultancy payment that put our owner as one of the top paid club chairman in the English leagues, despite being in League One. And yet again, what about the stuff we can’t check?

Incidentally, are some of the above not more harmful to our teams performance than the proposed fan protest? I certainly think so.

Anderson has, of course, also had his say on that forthcoming ‘misinformed’ fan protest. Statements such as the “protest is being led by a very small minority of people” and wondering “what their ultimate aim is?” There is the veiled threat of inappropriate action by fans possibly resulting in punitive action against the club, “harmful to the team performance” and a ‘helpful’ link highlighting the restrictions in place as to what fans can bring into the ground. All designed to put doubt in fan minds, discourage and demoralise a protest.

So to my point.

Are we as fans so cynical and lacking in moral character that we just accept the above as unpleasant but needed business practices? Are we so apathetic to the plight of our club that we cannot be bothered to complain? Are we so appeased to the view of poor little old Bolton, we just have to make do with what we’ve got, all we can do is just turn up and watch the team? Can we not long for a club in which honour, honesty and achievement count for more than guile, avarice and ambition? Are we not a founder member of the football league with a proud heritage the envy of many? Have we not had past teams and success that make us want to fight for more of the same in the future? Do we not want a successful club that we are proud of to hand on to the next generation of fans?

To quote our very own Jack Dearden re Mondays protest, we need to ‘keep it objective rather than abusive’ but we also need to show our disapproval at what is happening to OUR club. The nation will be watching, it may not force Ken Anderson to change direction but he WILL take note of its impact, particularly if it publicly embarrasses him.

Before the final game at home to Forest last season, relegation seemed a certainty. The team had put in an abject display the previous game at Burton and we found out that Wilbraham was starting this final crucial match, whilst fan favourite ALF was on the bench. After Wheater’s unlikely equaliser, the fans got together as one to urge our team on to the attack. A Wilbraham header made a fairytale come true and left every Bolton fan in that stadium with a memory to forever saviour. It shows that you have to put your heart into something to get a result and sometimes the impossible can actually happen.

Maybe a potential future investor will be watching Mondays game? Maybe that investor will be encouraged to make a positive decision on what they see? I’ve no idea how the next few months will turn out or whether this protest will initiate better things, but if you don’t try, you don’t get. To quote Oscar Wilde, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

So let’s at least try eh.