I write this on the eve of our season opener. Just 24 hours after we were confidently informed that the sale was imminent (for the hundredth time) and a full month after Heads of Terms was agreed way back on 01 July, we are still without new owners.
Late Thursday we were even told that the sale was complete and essentially just an admin tidy up was needed prior to formal sign off first thing the following day. Whilst the administrators and their two infamous consultants were no doubt backslapping each other on a job well done and to be fair, rinsing a fortune of around an estimated £1.5m (with a guaranteed full payment upfront) out of new owners scrabbling to find money to just pay off the football creditor debts IS some going, the rest of us were wondering about the actual football.
Nevertheless, we all excitedly awaited an action packed Friday morning. Takeover signed off, players all paid, a shed load of new signings and out of contract players re-registered and finally, game on.
But of course the Friday noon player registration EFL deadline came and went and to the surprise of no one, except maybe all the prospective new players waiting in the hotel to sign on the dotted line of a piece of paper that never materialised, we were still firmly in administration.
But the fun didn’t end there. The senior players, those few that are left on contract that is, made it quite plain that they weren’t going anywhere until they’d been paid. After five months they did have a point. Particularly in a sport where your next game is always one bad injury away from being your last. Apparently they were promised payment that morning. An 11 o’clock deadline had been set by them and, of course, missed. The money was finally actually paid in full shortly after midday. Or so we were told. Then apparently it wasn’t paid in full or not to all of them. We then heard that the club had deducted any PFA loans from their pay. Confusion reigned, Magennis went off in a huff refusing to play and the other players eventually, grudgingly boarded the team coach some five hours later than planned, after a hearty dinner in the hotel, that was on the administrators one hopes. I can only imagine the morale on that coach during the long journey down south in the middle of the Friday evening rush hour. Great preparation on the back of a non existent preseason!
Farce almost turned to hilarity when it was later revealed that Parky & his assistant Parkin had arranged to meet the coach at Keele services. Except of course it didn’t turn up until almost six hours later than expected. Why the manager had not mitigated for the inevitable hitches/issues and wasn’t alongside his players at the hotel showing them some solidarity God only knows, but it won’t have been the first time this past year he’s diverged from his players whilst doing the owners bidding.
With Connor Hall injured and Magennis probably flicking V’s from his hotel window, the remaining 11 players contracted to play for our wonderful club were on their way to Wycombe. A senior squad consisting of two goalkeepers and three midfielders. We can only put a first eleven out if one of the goalies plays up front! Matthews or Alnwick, who’s more likely to score? It’ll be the big question on Saturday.
Later it was revealed that another three players could take part in the game if the takeover completed Saturday morning &/or approval was given by the EFL. I’d assume that these players would be those who are out of contract and therefore the easiest to re-register for a game. I’d guess at Hobbs, Brockbank and maybe O’Neil or Buckley (or Earl & Weir), but, frankly, who knows what the real truth is or even if anyone really knows what is going on.
Apparently we are playing Wycombe, but with the keystone cops shenanigans at the Reebok, whoever we are playing, who’s in their squad, what is their form have become incidental questions. We’ve got far too much of our own shit to deal with without thinking about the opposition.
Anyhow, this isn’t the only Bolton footballing story of the past few days. Maybe the important one in one way but there again, maybe not. The soul of our club, the fans, are oft forgotten. In fact this time literally so by our club as we all had to buy our tickets from bloody Wycombe. So with no takeover confirmed, no signings nor indeed no contracted players in evidence nor any real guarantee that the game would be played, the Bolton Wanderers supporters have, of course, pretty much sold out the away allocation at Adams Park. That is truly a magnificent response from people who have been shat on by Anderson, bored to death by Parky’s defensive football and given pretty much no reason whatsoever to be cheerful this past year.
Come 3pm Saturday, the Bolton players will he met by a wall of noise from 1,800 fans who want to show that there is life yet in this founding member of the football league. The town of Bolton has had little other than disappointment and humiliation for our club this past few years but it can still be proud of its fans.
Victory or even a draw on Saturday is not impossible although it is improbable, but whatever happens on the field, the pride of Bolton will be very much alive off it in that away stand. I’ll be there and along with everyone else, we will give Wycombe a day to remember when Bolton came to town.