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A Football Club at Risk: Bolton Wanderers’ Financial Debacle Deepens

Players and staff remain unpaid and the training ground remained closed on Monday. What is going on at Bolton Wanderers?

Bolton Wanderers v Burton Albion - Capital One Cup First Round
Dark days linger at Bolton Wanderers
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers’ financial debacle has plummeted to new depths, with further revelations of players and staff going unpaid fuelling rumours that Saturday’s clash at home to Millwall could be under threat.

Back in January, Bolton fans united in protest against Chairman Ken Anderson in the midst of unpaid fees for Christian Doidge and Remi Matthews and his pathetic public spat with his Forest Green Rovers counterpart. But the situation has since deteriorated dramatically in the midst of rumours that a consortium - plus two others, if you believe anything Anderson says (which we don’t) - is in talks to buy the club, but could now be on the brink of collapse.

With that takeover supposedly pending, Anderson has steadfastly refused to pay players and staff their February wages and looks highly unlikely to relinquish the cash required to cover them before the sale of the club is completed. A story in the Daily Mail today suggests that: “In desperation, some of the lower paid members of staff are asking for smaller cash amounts in absence of their salaries to enable themselves to put petrol in their cars and buy food.”

An ongoing disgrace

So what’s next? Would you bother turning up for work if your employer didn’t pay you on time and steadfastly refused to pay you for work that you’ve done? It’s an absolute disgrace of a situation, and yet further proof that this man is not fit to run any business, let alone a football club.

Suspicions have therefore been prompted that staff may strike - which, frankly, they should have done as soon as they received the pathetic email update from Anderson that was subsequently leaked onto social media last week - and it’s realistic to think that players may follow suit if the situation continues. If staff do refuse to turn up to work then Saturday’s game at home to Millwall won’t physically be able to go ahead - and who knows what the implications of that unprecedented step would be.

As one club staff member has alluded to on Twitter, below...

Is the club’s future at risk?

The unpaid wages alone is pretty awful, but it also today emerged that the club’s training ground has remained closed due to a “shortage of food and drink.”

These ongoing financial issues - which are now directly affecting the day-to-day running of the club and threatening peoples’ livelihoods - raise serious concerns over the future of the club. It’s also been suggested that Greater Manchester Police have outstanding payments from the club, we owe money to the local council, and anyone who’s seen images of recent home games would have visual evidence that other bills may be outstanding. And not to forget yet another impending winding up order from HMRC is just two weeks away, plus who knows what other debts remain unpaid.

Worse still, if the pending takeover bid doesn’t go ahead, then what happens? It’s clear that Anderson doesn’t have the funds to keep the club going and we still have the pending £5 million to Eddie Davies’ family, which was due to be repaid this month, lurking over us.

You have to seriously question why anyone would be interested in paying the £25 million Anderson is apparently seeking to take control of such a shambles of a club. If and when we get relegated to League One - given we’re now 7 points from safety with 11 games remaining and with just 1 win in 13 matches and 2 wins in the last 27 - the club is going to be even less lucrative. And we have far less chance of bouncing back at the first attempt than we did last time around.

As Daily Mail journalist Mike Keegan surmised this afternoon, this cannot go on. Enough is enough. We need Anderson out of the club as soon as possible before he actually runs Bolton Wanderers into the ground.