November 21st, 2019, 6:30pm:
“An independent Disciplinary Commission, appointed under EFL Regulations, has ruled that Bolton Wanderers will be handed a sanction of five points, suspended for 18 months, and a financial penalty as a result of being deemed guilty of breaching EFL Regulations in failing to meet its fixture obligations.”
November 22nd, 2019, 10:08am:
”The EFL is disappointed by the conclusions reached by the independent Disciplinary Commission in respect of Bolton Wanderers and it is the firm view of the League that the sanction imposed is too lenient when consideration is given to all the circumstances of the case.
”Given the potential for postponements to have a significant impact on competition integrity and, following receipt of advice overnight on the reasons provided, the League will appeal the outcome in the strongest possible sense.”
15 hours and 38 minutes were all that Bolton Wanderers fans were afforded in terms of relief by the EFL. Relief that the so-called “Impossible Dream” could begin to be realised. Relief that the Ken Anderson era was finally behind us. Relief that football could at last be the only topic of conversation among supporters. No such luck.
We rejoiced after the initial announcement, scarcely believing that sense had prevailed and Wanderers were not going to be punished for the crimes of a regime past, allowing Sharon Britain and Keith Hill to plan their assault on League 1 with survival a truly realistic aim. Was the verdict a tad lenient? Probably. However, when one considers the factors that led to both fixtures not taking place, Wanderers certainly had a case to be dealt with leniently. The independent Disciplinary Commission certainly thought so.
The legal defence prepared by our Legal Counsel and Matthew Bennett from Centrefield LLP, ably assisted by all accounts by Andy Gartside, put forward a case that the panel, thought fit to judge the case by Debbie Jevans and the EFL, deemed worthy of consideration. No doubt they cited the well-documented welfare concerns of our youth players who would have been forced to play more than the 3 games in a week deemed appropriate by Premier League guidelines for academies. They could also have drawn upon our players right to strike after Ken Anderson had not paid them for months in advance of the cancelled Brentford game. The only real piece of wrongdoing from a Bolton perspective was that they called the Doncaster game off without informing the Yorkshire club in advance. That deserves punishing, no doubt, but the other aspects of the case can easily divide opinion.
Therefore, seeing as it is clear that nobody had nor has a clear idea of what the best punishment should be, surely the only reasonable thing for the EFL to do after hearing of the panel’s verdict is to respect their decision. They allowed the panel to have full control of this outcome and now they have chosen to totally undermine it. This decision, when factoring in the Brentford game, has been almost 7 months in the making; why drag it out even further?
Debbie Jevans has seen Bury FC go under during her time as chair of the EFL, she has seen Macclesfield players go unpaid and looks set to punish Sheffield Wednesday for the sale of their stadium, a sale that was initially sanctioned by her own organisation. Even before considering our situation at Bolton, her and her governing body’s reputation is at an all-time low. Why on earth has she seen fit to drag the EFL through the mud once again?
Owners of other clubs have poked fun at the panel’s decision, citing the fact it sets a dangerous precedent for cancelling fixtures in future. This is simply not the case. Ours was an almost unheard-of situation. It would never have occurred had the EFL seen sense and not allowed us to start the season whilst without ownership and in administration. They made this situation happen. A club will not start postponing games because they think they won’t be harshly punished as they will never be subject to those extreme circumstances Bolton were in. They postpone games for missing one or two players during international break whilst we had an entire squad missing and still tried to play!
I can’t believe we are still going to be forced to continue to go through the ringer with this nonsense. Yesterday it was done, dusted and finished. Some people (mainly Doncaster Rovers fans who have shown themselves in the main to be a very odd and bitter bunch) weren’t happy but that was it. Had the EFL given it a week nobody would have been talking about it anymore, instead they feel the need to stick their oar in and continue to kick Bolton Wanderers while we are down in a position their incompetence forced us into. They are not, and haven’t been for some, fit for purpose and until a complete overhaul of how they are run takes place, more and more proud clubs will continue to suffer.
Shaun Harvey, Debbie Jevans and everyone associated with the EFL: Go fuck yourselves.