As we countdown to the forthcoming football season, how are your clubs preparations going? With less than two weeks to the start of the EFL season on Friday 2nd August 2019, we suspect your club are currently in the middle of a host of pre season games. Proudly showing off new signings wearing a shiny new kit. Maybe a couple of players have come and gone, perhaps your club starts the season with a new man at the helm or in a new division? One thing is for sure, supporters are now starting to awake for their summer slumber and getting excited for the start of a brand new season. A new season and a new hope, unless you are a supporter of Bolton Wanderers.
Whoever you support and I do not support the Trotters, you cannot help but wonder what on earth is going on at the University of Bolton Stadium?
With liquidation averted, but administration entered the club are still with 13 days to go before the first game of the season none the wiser as to who will own the club, run the team or even if they can put a team out.
Firstly, the club did avoid being liquidated after several trips to the courts. However, with administration comes a 12 point deduction before they kick a ball in anger away at Wycombe Wanderers on 3rd August. Some may say Bolton are fortunate not to have suffered a bigger penalty after failing to fulfil a Championship fixture at home to Brentford at the end of last season. The authorities did award the 3 points to the West London side and that seems to be the end of the matter.
Relegation to League One was on the cards for most of last season, in fact Bolton only avoided relegation the season before on the last day of that season, with 2 goals in 2 minutes to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 so things have been tough on the pitch. Those troubles have been dwarfed by the troubles off it.
Previous owner, Ken Anderson tried and failed to keep the club going yet appears to be taking a large paycheck off the new owners for his doomed time at the club.
Staff on and off the field have regularly failed to have been paid which is the real human tragedy of this debacle. Real people with mortgages, bills, etc to pay in serious financial trouble due to a lack of a basic pay day. Despite the modern footballer appearing to be millionaires, the money does not always flow down through the leagues. Some of the players and youth players have had hard times due to a lack of earnings. Let us not forget that a player in the Championship will live within their wages in terms of house, car, lifestyle, etc and when that money no longer rolls in as is expected and contracted, no one can live off nothing.
On the field, several players have left leaving just 7 first teamers in the squad. The playing staff have not had acceptable training facilities to prepare for the forthcoming season and therefore decided enough is enough and have refused to play several pre season friendlies. This is not conducive to good preparation for the new season. Then there are no season ticket sales as they are dependent on the takeover of the club.
On a positive note, the club did manage to swerve a bullet in Lawrence Bassini taking over the club. In case you do not know, Bassini has previously in 2013, been found guilty of dishonesty and deception and banned for three years from being involved in a position of authority at any Football League club. It followed an inquiry into loans he took out.
Bassini claimed he had the £20m to save Bolton Wanderers and even went on television waving a Bolton shirt around declaring his love for the club and claiming he will not let the supporters down.
Ultimately, Bassini was unsuccessful in proving to the EFL that he had the requisite funds he boasted and the deal never materialised. Then he tried again, bidding against several other ventures to buy and save the club only for the administrators to choose Football Ventures consortium. Administrators claim that Football Ventures have proof of the funding to buy the club and support it financially for the next two years which is the basic demand of the administrators.
Bassini, not happy with losing out again has allegedly inundated the administrators with texts and emails some of which have bordered on harassment. Clearly, Bassini was another Ken Anderson.
Us football fans are an impatient bunch. We want plenty of transfers and we want them now. We know which players our club should sign, how much they are worth, which formation is best suited to our team and who should be our manager. Fans also expect takeovers to happen within days not months, yet a takeover of a club in administration can and usually does take months. However, with the season around the corner, time is not what Bolton have. The sticking point over Football Ventures takeover appears to be around the purchase of the hotel at the ground.
The problems from a football point of view are mounting. What physical and mental state is the playing squad in? What will the squad look like come 3rd August? Surely a new ownership will want a new manager? That new manager will want his own players? The list goes on.
With so much still in the air at Bolton, is the 2019/20 season just about staying afloat? Avoid a double relegation to League Two, bearing in mind the 12 point deduction the club start with?
Despite the initial optimism of the club avoiding being folded, there are many question marks hovering over the club. So if your club has not impressed you this close season with recruitment, pre season results or like Coventry City, will not be playing at your own ground or in your own city, spare a thought for Bolton Wanderers supporters who haven’t a clue who, if anyone will turn out at Wycombe come 3pm on Saturday 3rd August.