If you thought a 6-0 trouncing at Hull City on New Years’ Day meant a bad start to 2019 for Bolton Wanderers then you may want to stop reading now. Because a rollercoaster of doom has trumped it just three days later, in a series of bad news stories that the plot-writers of Dream Team would deem too unrealistic to befall the fictional Harchester United (credit editor Eddie for that reference).
Firstly, this morning Wanderers fans woke up to news that a trio of players - Christian Doidge, Remi Matthews and Gary O’Neil - are unlikely to be available for tomorrow’s FA Cup clash with Walsall due to a “registration embargo.”
The EFL has blocked the availability of Doidge and Matthews - who joined in the summer on loan deals from Forest Green Rovers and Norwich City respectively, with the agreement that permanent moves and transfer fees would be completed in January - and O’Neil - who was on a short-term contract until the start of January - due to the fact that the club owes money to at least one football creditor. In theory, the trio won’t be available for selection until the debt to said creditor is paid off.
And that brings us nicely onto the next bombshell, as The Times reported that Bolton’s players’ wages in November and December were paid by the PFA - contrary to club owner Ken Anderson’s previous claim that he had “personally funded” the players’ wages.
This article also references that the £5 million loan paid to Anderson by previous owner Eddie Davies to save the club from the latest HMRC winding-up petition “must be repaid in March.” Considering we’re struggling to not only pay our players but also pay the agreed fees for Doidge and Matthews, that pending repayment seems highly unlikely.
Next in the conveyor belt of misery was the revelation that The Bolton Whites Hotel - the hotel on the site of the University of Bolton Stadium - has been issued a winding-up petition by HMRC. Further details of this, and how it may affect the football club, are currently unknown.
Just when it seemed that things couldn’t possibly get any worse there was another punch to the gut, as it was revealed that former striker Gary Madine was set to sign on loan for Sheffield United. Of all the teams he could have joined, the Washing Machine is set to line up alongside his best mate Billy Sharp at The Blades.
Oh, and just to top it off, Adam Le Fondre - who the club allowed to rip up his contract and leave on a transfer - went and scored his 10th goal in 11 games for Sydney FC, which is an A-League record. All of that before midday.
It remains to be seen what follows in this seemingly never-ending saga of misery but realistically the bad news is only going to keep on coming for Wanderers fans. Meanwhile, Anderson is nowhere to be seen or heard, with no update from him on any of these ongoing matters since 14 December - when he banned Bolton News journalist Marc Iles from attending home matches because, and I quote: “Coverage of the club both in the paper and on his Twitter account have been negative and an increasing number of his articles have been factually incorrect, which in my opinion causes unnecessary alarm to our supporters and certainly does not aid us in our search for new investment.”
What is absolutely not factually incorrect is that Bolton Wanderers are in a right royal mess, which is further proven by today’s deluge of negative, factually correct news stories. It’s clear that drastic change is desperately needed - ideally starting with getting Anderson out of the club as soon as possible.
Away from the off-field mess, Wanderers welcome Walsall to the UniBol tomorrow for an FA Cup third round clash. Check out Eddie’s article from earlier today for a reminder of why the FA Cup matters for Bolton fans.