Bolton are on the brink of liquidation, with their 145-year history hanging in the balance while quibbles continue over legal paperwork.
A deal to sell the Trotters to preferred bidders Football Ventures collapsed on Saturday morning – despite being virtually agreed hours earlier – and the club’s administrator has warned the money has now run out and he will start closing them down on Wednesday.
The English Football League has given the club until 5pm today to prove a deal is done or provide reasons why they require an extension, otherwise a notice for their formal withdrawal from the league will be issued.
Bolton, founder members of the Football League, will still have 14 days to provide proof of funds in order to stave off expulsion, but assets will start to be sold off on Wednesday, with the likelihood 150-plus jobs will be lost.
Neighbours Bury also face a 5pm deadline for their owner Steve Dale to complete a sale to data analytics company C&N Sporting Risk or face a similar withdrawal notice.
They, however, have been offered a lifeline by the EFL in terms of an extension should they be able to prove a deal is all but done.
Bolton’s situation is more precarious, with administrator Paul Appleton saying: “The club is currently not in a position to carry on trading and, as such, the process of closing down the company will commence on Wednesday.
“Unless there is a change of position from any of the parties involved, the process of closing down the club and ultimately placing Bolton Wanderers into liquidation will begin this week.”
Bolton owner Ken Anderson, however, has rejected suggestions he is to blame.
“I have had no contact with any of the consortium, the Eddie Davies Trust (set up by the former owner) or Keir Gordon (lawyer for the Trust) since the appointment of the administrators and was not involved in any of the discussions or delays over the last few months,” he said.
“The lengthy delays are entirely due to the discussions and negotiations between the consortium, Trust, Michael James, Administrators and Keir Gordon.
“As l understand it, Keir Gordon and the Eddie Davies Trust and my lawyers were unable to reach an agreement on Saturday.
“Obviously, l have to be guided by my lawyers and QC advice and it now rests with Keir Gordon and the Trust to respond to my lawyers.”