In recent weeks, there has been mounting speculation regarding the future of Bolton Wanderers – as the Trotters go in search of new ownership.
Current owner Eddie Davies is ready to sell up in the near future, with financial expert Trevor Birch brought into the Macron Stadium to conclude any potential deal, due to the ill health of chairman, Phil Gartside.
Birch was drafted in as an emergency appointment, his CV consists of spells saving both Leeds United and Portsmouth from financial ruin, the next few weeks will pose another challenge for him to handle. Tough decisions will have to be made by Birch, on behalf of the outgoing board.
However, many fans, including myself, remain somewhat confused with the situation at the moment, as the club remain quiet which, of course, is entirely understandable.
The news which subsequently broke on Monday evening that Davies was ready to wipe £180m of debt, to leave the club on a firm footing, is welcomed news for once, during what has been a traumatic time for all concerned.
It is fitting that Davies’ final act as chairman of this beleaguered footballing institution, is to wipe the slate clean – after providing the cash through the top-flight days under Sam Allardyce.
For me on a personal level, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Davies for this brilliant gesture, which ultimately means that the fresh investors, whoever they may be, will take on a club who in theory will be “debt free.”
Bolton’s financial crisis is completely their own doing – overspending beyond their means over the past few years especially, as finances have crippled them ever since relegation from the Premier League, over three-years ago.
But with new ownership on the horizon, one question still beckons for the Wanderers’ faithful, and that is who indeed will take over from Davies?
Should local news outlets to be believed, then a consortium going by the name of Sports Shield Consultancy, are in the advanced stages of negotiations to buy Bolton Wanderers.
The consultancy, which is self-funded, is led by former Wanderers’ forward, and crowd favourite, Dean Holdsworth, and his associates.
Holdsworth, who has self-funded any deal, recently resigned as Brentwood Town manager, which further increased speculation.
Sports Shield are a relatively new company, only set up in July, but under the stewardship of a man who represented Bolton for six-years, fans are optimistic.
According to the local newspaper, the Bolton News, both parties have been locked in discussions over the course of the past few weeks, who want a proposed deal thrashed out.
Aside from Holdsworth’s interest, other individuals have stepped forward in pursuit of owning the club, including Bolton-born professional boxer, Amir Khan, who wants to get involved, should he be given the opportunity.
One of the names in the frame is that of a surprising one, with former player, and Greek European Championship winner, Stelios Giannakopoulos demanding answers from the club after his long-standing bid had been ignored.
Stelios, who will use foreign money from Canadian investors to aid his bid, first registered an interest to lodge a purchase in the January of this year.
Davies remains unwilling to sell to foreign consortium’s, despite Stelios’ stature at Bolton, having already rejected several bids from the Far East and abroad over the last year or so.
Any takeover will hopefully provide a springboard for improvements on the pitch – we must not forget that Bolton find themselves propping up the Championship.
The thought of investment is intriguing to say the least, something the ever frustrated Neil Lennon has bemoaned for quite a while. In recent days, the 44-year-old has also seen his job come under threat, with talk of the new board keen to appoint their own man, a scenario which has happened at other clubs following a takeover.
It is also vital that any deal is done swiftly, to attempt to salvage Bolton’s campaign. A survival bid could all but hinge of the funds that is granted in January – it is a tall order, admittedly, my ultimate fear is League One football could be here come August.
My final point, whichever consortium takes the club forward will need to keep supporters in the frame, something that the previous board struggled at, with Davies out on the Isle of Man, and Gartside becoming increasing reluctant to speak to the media. The next few weeks will be key to the short and long-term sustainability.