It’s the longest 48 hours in sporting history. For that was the time scale given just after Sports Shield, the consortium fronted by Dean Holdsworth, announced an interest in buying Bolton Wanderers. That was last year.
Deano is still around and the number of other groups wishing to buy the club varies between zero and three depending on the day of the week. Former player Stelios was mentioned at one point, but decided that the Greek economy was a better bet.
At first it was thought that the interested parties had seen the books and didn’t like the numbers, but now it’s turns out that none of them have offered enough money to even see the figures. Owner Eddie Davies and his sidekick Trevor Birch, the Dastardly and Muttley of Championship football, originally wanted £15 million, but will take £1 now, providing the debts are covered, which means the final purchase price will be 85p with an option on a Greenhalgh’s pasty.
Still, parts of the business has been jettisoned. Some of the car parks were disposed of a while back, and others are rumoured to follow, whilst the offices went in order to pay off the equivalent of a £5 million pay day loan. Should absent chairman Phil Gartside return to his post then he’ll be housed in a Portokabin next to the hamburger stand on Lostock Lane whilst board meetings will take place at the nearby Wacky Warehouse.
Attempts to offload the few players that can be put on the market without raising a laugh, have been less successful. Josh Vela was going to Cardiff for £450,000. Then he wasn’t.
Zac Clough was on his way to Bristol City. Oh no he wasn’t. Oh yes he was, but for a reduced fee. Now it seems that Young Zac has turned down a move as he doesn’t fancy living in a place where everyone looks and sounds like Wallace and Gromit.
A bid of £750,000 was accepted for Mark Davies from Sheffield Wednesday, but personal terms, surrounding his fast food allowance could not be agreed. There was also a complication. Whites fans are used to mini Davo going missing during games, but it seemed he’d vanished altogether according to Neil Lennon.
“I’ve not seen Mark Davies since Thursday,” said the Ginger Sex Beast. A hint Neil: Look in the treatment rooms at the Macron, if the club still owns them, or the nearest branch of McDonalds.
Why do players need to be sold? To keep out of administration of course. Or to pay the fees when going into administration. No one seems quite sure.
The staff were paid last month – eventually, with help from the PFA. What happens on the next wage run is anyone’s guess. Unfortunately, there’s a £2 million tax demand that remains unattended to, which HMRC takes a dim view of, unless you’re Starbucks, Amazon, Google or anyone else big enough to stick two fingers up at them.
Not that you’d have known there was a problem back in November when hints of how bad the situation was began to emerge.
“Whilst the club acknowledges it is going through a challenging time, there have been no threats to any staff jobs in the immediate future. After consistent backing from owner Eddie Davies, the club continues to seek fresh investment in what is a difficult and challenging economic climate.” ran a statement on the official site. Backing from Owner Ed got a little less consistent just after that.
However, for entirely misplaced complacency, those words pale in comparison to Gartside’s, just after relegation from the Premier League.
“We’ve got a fantastic benefactor in Eddie Davies, who happens to come from Bolton which is an asset. We’ve got a very small bank debt. We’ve got a £10 million overdraft with Barclays. In fact Barclays raised that this year to £15 million. The rest of the debt is better described as equity because it’s Eddie’s debt, he doesn’t get interest on it and he’s there for the long term.”
– Richard McCormick