Oh Garty, Where Art Thou?

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers - Etihad Stadium

The fall out from the financial statement issued by Bolton Wanderers on New Year’s Eve 2013 continues, with a number of articles in the national press written along the lines of “How Not to Run a Football Club.”

Since then chairman Phil Gartside has, unusually for him, been a little quiet. His Twitter account closed some weeks ago, which was probably just as well. Referring to Arsene Wenger as a bell-end, telling one fan who’d raised a reasonable point to “get a life” and tweeting the partial address of this observer demonstrated an inability to control himself on that medium.

After the release of the 2012 accounts, which were merely catastrophic, rather than the meltdown material just published, Gartside was all over the airwaves with a well rehearsed message.

The debt is better described as equity…it’s Eddie’s debt…he’s been a big supporter all his life…he’s 66, in good health…we have the academy lads follow him round with a defibrillator, just in case.

Ok, the last bit was made up, but you get the drift.

This time, it’s taken almost a fortnight to get a response with an emotional Gartside pitching up on old friend Jack Dearden’s show on GMR.

“I’m sick of saying it,” he spluttered. “I’ve said it to you, I’ve said it to the fans. This is an amount of money that somebody has lent to us, who is a benefactor. This is not bank debt.

“If some other foreign owner does that sort of thing it never gets a mention. Because it’s Eddie Davies and because it’s Bolton Wanderers it gets called debt.

“I know, technically, it is debt but it is not in the sense of a bank debt. We owe the bank £8million, an overdraft, and there would be many a club in this country who would be envious of having an £8million overdraft in a football club.

“When you look around the place, we’ve got a ground, a training ground, an academy, a hotel, property, we own all the surrounding land around it and we’ve got development land.

“We own that. We’ve got no debt on that land at all. These are Eddie’s assets.

“We’re sat in a stadium that we built 15 years ago that we don’t have any borrowings against. We have a hotel next door that we don’t. You’ve got to remember that these are substantial assets.”

Which is all nice and bonny, but it doesn’t answer the vital questions, which is perhaps not surprising since Dearden didn’t ask them. Here’s a few to be going on with.

1. How does a small club like Bolton Wanderers keep racking up huge losses year after year (£13 million, £35 million, £26 million, £22 million and now £50 million.)
2. How are you going to stem those losses?
3. Why was there a £14 million increase in the wage bill between 2009 and 2010? And why were £8 million of staff costs not originally included in the accounts for 2010?
4. Why is Bolton’s player trading record so bad? Click here for more details
5. Bolton Wanderers owes £151.3million to Moonshift Investments, a company about which little is known since it is registered in the British Virgin Islands. Care to tell us more about it?
6. You are attempting to change Burnden Leisure PLC, the holding company of Bolton Wanderers, from a public limited company to a private limited company. Why?

And now, in keeping with the Gartsidian mood, here’s some music.

– Richard McCormick



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