Bolton Wanderers have been in the news this week as the club's chairman has been drawn into a public spat with another club, facing serious questions over the clubs finanancial position and future prospects. Here Rob Latham from the Lion of Vienna Suite tells us why Wanderers' fans have had enough...
Bolton Wanderers supporters are uniting in protest against owner Ken Anderson’s running of the football club, as its financial rollercoaster ride took another nosedive this week.
The latest fallout sees Bolton, an FA founding member in 1888, yet again owing significant debts that also affect at least two other English clubs. Norwich City have claimed they are owed a “six-figure fee” over unpaid payments for the loan of Yanic Wildschut and a loan-to-buy deal for Remi Matthews, who has now left the club after Bolton failed to pay an agreed transfer fee in January.
The same goes for League Two side Forest Green Rovers, whose chairman Dale Vince launched a scathing attack on Anderson earlier this week over the agreed loan-to-buy deal for Christian Doidge, who has also returned to his former club.
This follows years of financial uncertainty at Bolton, ever since the club was relegated from the Premier League in 2012. A failure to regain top-flight status saw the club’s frivolous spending land it in £172.9 million-worth of debt, which former owner Eddie Davies wrote off when Ken Anderson, a man banned from being a company director for eight years in 2005, took control of the club.
Since then, several winding-up petitions from HMRC have come and gone, as well as a two-year-long transfer embargo, during which we got relegated to League One and somehow managed to immediately get promoted.
But the financial situation remains unclear at best. In the summer, Bolton’s players went on strike and refused to play a pre-season friendly against St Mirren over unpaid bonuses. The club then very nearly went into administration in September - only saved from the brink when Davies bailed Anderson out with a £5 million loan four days before his death. The club is due to repay that debt by March, but the prospect of that happening remains questionable given claims earlier this week that the PFA had to step in to fund players’ wages for November and December, on top of the alleged unpaid fees to Norwich and Forest Green.
On top of all of that, last week it emerged that a winding-up petition has been lodged against Bolton Whites Hotel, a subsidiary of the club of which Anderson is the sole director. Then on Wednesday, two further winding-up petitions were issued against the club, one from HMRC and another from football agents firm Stellar Football Ltd.
Despite the wide-ranging media coverage of the situation - which the Chairman consistently dismisses as ‘factually incorrect’ - Anderson has staunchly denied that there’s a problem. His actions only serve to infuriate fans, to whom he even repeatedly attributes blame for not buying tickets to matches. He’s also banned local paper the Bolton News’ club reporter from attending home matches.
To top things off, on Wednesday Anderson issued a club statement ‘firing back’ at Forest Green, - whose chairman has since threatened legal action - only days after stating “l won’t lower myself to respond to his disrespectful and misleading comments.” This backfired catastrophically, only serving to gain support from rival supporters on Twitter and accruing national media coverage of the Chairman’s activity from some of the most respected football journalists in the country.
Time for action
Bolton fans have finally decided that enough is enough, and will protest against how Anderson is running the club at the home league match against West Bromwich Albion - which will be televised live on Sky Sports on Monday 21st January.
In a little under a decade, Bolton Wanderers has deteriorated from a club fielding World Cup winners, former Real Madrid players and one of the world’s most exciting players in Jay-Jay Okocha in Europe to being ravaged by debt and nearly run into the ground by a man clearly unfit to run a football club.
We will do everything we can to preserve our club’s 145-year history. We call on all Bolton Wanderers supporters to unite and welcome the support of football fans in general to ensure this happens.
Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this blog.