Football: Bolton Wanderers back from brink as takeover deal completed

The deal comes on the first day of a 14-day period Bolton Wanderers had been given to find a buyer and prevent the club from liquidation.
The deal comes on the first day of a 14-day period Bolton Wanderers had been given to find a buyer and prevent the club from liquidation.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - A buyer has been found for stricken Bolton Wanderers, staving off the imminent threat of extinction, the English third-tier club announced on Wednesday (Aug 28).

"We are pleased to announce the sale of Bolton Wanderers to Football Ventures (Whites) Limited has been completed," the club, which was on the verge of liquidation, said in a statement.

"This has been one of the most complicated administrations I've been involved with but I'm delighted to say we have finally reached a satisfactory conclusion with the sale to Football Ventures," said the club's joint administrator, Paul Appleton. "Now there can be a fresh start with owners who, I believe, will run the club for the good of the supporters and the community as a whole."

Appleton praised the part played by the family trust set up by the late Eddie Davies - who owned the club from 2003-16, writing off £175 million (S$297 million) in loans and interest.

Four days before his death in September last year, he also gave the club £5 million to save it from administration.

However, Appleton did not mince his words on the most recent owner Ken Anderson's behaviour throughout the takeover process - it is understood he was the cause of the takeover being halted last weekend due to a dispute with the trust.

"Even at the 11th hour, when other parties were content to renege on their agreements, the trust realised the very existence of Bolton Wanderers was at stake and were willing to find a compromise to save the club," sad Appleton.

"The Trust were forced to constantly compromise their position in the face of circumstances and demands which were wholly unreasonable.

"This says much about their determination not to allow Eddie's beloved Bolton Wanderers to suffer any longer at the hands of Ken Anderson.

"Sadly, Mr Anderson has used his position as a secured creditor to hamper and frustrate any deal that did not benefit him or suit his purposes.

"Thankfully, with the assistance of the trust and others, we were able to overcome this obstacle."

Appleton warned that even with new ownership, there are rough times ahead - the club began the season with a 12-point deduction for entering administration.

However, the new owners said in their statement that despite at times finding it hard to prevent their frustrations from boiling over, they were delighted they had persisted.

"We took a decision to remain on the sidelines even when further damage was being inflicted by delays outside of our control," they said. "Now we are excited to begin restoring this magnificent football club to its rightful position."

The deal comes on the first day of a 14-day period Bolton had been given to find a buyer and prevent the club from going the same way as its near neighbour, fellow League One side Bury.

The side from north-west England was expelled from the Football League after more than 100 years late on Tuesday after a takeover bid collapsed. It was the first club to be expelled from the league since Maidstone United in 1992, and it was feared Bolton would go the same way.

The four-time FA Cup winners have spent 74 seasons in the top flight, including an unbroken 11-year stint in the Premier League which only ended in 2012.

They reached the last 16 of the Uefa Cup as recently as 2008 but their troubled financial situation only worsened when they were relegated from the Championship at the end of last season.

Debbie Jevans, executive chair of the English Football League, confirmed the threat of expulsion no longer hung over the club. "Following the completion of the sale, the club is no longer in administration and the notice of withdrawal issued as per the EFL's insolvency policy has been cancelled," she said in a statement.