Bolton Wanderers: Football Ventures completes takeover to save League One club
Bolton Wanderers' survival has been secured after Football Ventures (Whites) Limited completed its protracted takeover of the club.
Administrators had warned the club could be placed into liquidation on Wednesday without a finalised takeover.
It looked to have collapsed on Monday, leading to bleak warnings about the future of the 145-year-old club.
“I'm delighted we've finally reached a satisfactory conclusion with the sale,” said joint administrator Paul Appleton.
“I have every sympathy for the staff, players and fans who have been forced to stand by while their club was taken to the brink. I am delighted their loyalty, dedication and patience has finally been rewarded.”
On Tuesday, the English Football League gave Bolton 14 days to complete a deal or face expulsion from the EFL.
Bury became the first club to be expelled from the EFL for 27 years on Tuesday, after a takeover bid fell through just before the EFL's deadline.
“At times it has been difficult to keep our counsel but we took a decision to remain on the sidelines even when further damage was being inflicted by delays outside of our control,” said a statement on behalf of Football Ventures.
“Now we are excited to begin restoring this magnificent football club to its rightful position, securing its future for the fans, the loyal club staff, and the players.”
As a result of the takeover Bolton are now out of administration, with their place in the EFL no longer under threat.
“These past few months have undoubtedly been challenging and, at times, fraught – never more so in the past few days – and I would like to thank all parties for their efforts in achieving the desired outcome,” said EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans.
‘Anderson hampered and frustrated deal'
In a Bolton statement, Appleton was critical of the club's former owner Ken Anderson, who he said was responsible for the deal initially collapsing on Monday.
Appleton praised Bolton's late owner Eddie Davies – who last year gave the club a £5m loan days before his death – and also wrote off in the region of £175m worth of loans when the club was bought by a consortium involving Anderson in 2016.
“This says much about the determination of the Eddie Davies Trust not to allow his beloved Bolton Wanderers to suffer any longer at the hands of Ken Anderson,” Appleton said.
“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.”
Bolton, who started the season with a 12-point deduction, called off last week's game against Doncaster Rovers amid welfare concerns for younger players, while Phil Parkinson also resigned as manager.
“At times, some of the hurdles appeared insurmountable and the frustration felt has been immense, not least by the supporters who have had to endure too many weeks of uncertainty,” added 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.”
Two months of takeover uncertainty
Football Ventures (Whites) Limited, led by Sharon Brittan, were named as preferred bidders on 1 July by administrators David Rubin & Partners.
The takeover has faced numerous hurdles since then, with the deal appearing to have collapsed completely on Saturday despite being close to completion the previous day.
In a statement issued on Monday, the administrators said if they were unable to resurrect the move the club was “not in a position to carry on trading” and would enter liquidation, leading to the “inevitable loss of over 150 jobs”.
Wanderers were beaten 5-0 at home by Ipswich Town on Saturday in front of just 5,454 fans – the lowest attendance for a league game at the University of Bolton Stadium in its 22-year history.
With the majority of the club's senior players having left, they have fielded sides made up almost entirely of youth-team players in their five matches so far this campaign – including their youngest-ever side against Coventry City on 10 August.
“It's just fantastic. I was down at the stadium when the statement came through. It's what everybody has been waiting for,” said Maggie Tetlow, co-founder of the Bolton Wanderers Supporters Trust.
She told BBC Radio 5 Live: “They [new owners] have got a good track record in business.”
To the brink and back – a timeline
- Bolton were relegated from the Premier League in 2012.
- Four years later their football existence was threatened as former striker Dean Holdsworth was part of a takeover at the club.
- Anderson took control after Holdsworth's company Sports Shield was wound up.
- Wanderers entered administration in May after being relegated from the Championship, before Football Ventures agreed a deal to take over the club.
- The deal was almost stopped after Laurence Bassini, who had bid to buy the club before administration, was awarded a court order blocking the sale on 8 August.
- The court order was adjourned, paving the way for the takeover to continue before it eventually collapsed.
- The club called off their match against Doncaster last week citing welfare concerns, having only five senior outfield players available.
- Boss Phil Parkinson resigned last Thursday after three years with the club and a young side lost 5-0 against Ipswich on Saturday.
- Football Ventures eventually complete their takeover with the threat of liquidation and expulsion from the EFL looming.
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