Supporters Direct statement: Bolton Wanderers F.C.

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SD stand united in support of Bolton Wanderers Supporters Trust (BWST) in their attempts to gain a meaningful understanding of what is happening at their football club.

The Bolton Wanderers F.C. Chairman Ken Anderson has turned his attention to challenging the Asset of Community Value (ACV) listing that the BWST have submitted, to provide extra protection over what might happen in the event of any attempted sale of the club’s ground. This application has been made against a backdrop of property disposals by the club and loans secured on club assets.

An ACV is a familiar thing in football with more than 50 football grounds listed by Supporters Trusts. The legislation is limited; it doesn’t prevent the sale of the asset but merely ensures greater transparency through a clear public process.

BWST have been clear that they just want to understand the motivation behind the Chairman challenging the ACV and to ensure that, if any assets are sold, the proceeds will benefit the long-term future of the club. Until there is greater transparency in how the club is being run, it’s a position that every Supporters Trust should take, in line with their constitution, and in this case backed by a survey of BWST members.

Unfortunately, BWST and Bolton supporters are being forced to take a stance which goes against their natural instincts to support their club. SD believe they have been let down by an inadequate regulatory regime that has allowed the club to be mismanaged and has seemingly put the long-term future of the club and its assets at risk.

In March 2016, a consortium led by Dean Holdsworth and Ken Anderson bought a 95% controlling stake in the club for£1. In doing so they negotiated the write off of £170 million of loans advanced by the previous owner, a Bermudan company controlled by Eddie Davies. Since then there have been constant signs that the club is in financial trouble and the promised investment necessary to return the club to financial stability has not been forthcoming, such as:

  • The negotiation of a £5 million loan from BluMarble Capital Limited, advanced at the time of the change of ownership,secured on the assets of Burnden Leisure group companies (including those of Bolton Wanderers FC) and subject to annual interest of 24%.
  • The failure to repay a £5.5 million loan, secured on group company assets, due for repayment in January 2017 and therefore in default.
  • Late filing of accounts for both 2014/15 and 2015/16 in breach of both Company Law and EFL regulations.
  • The former auditors, Deloitte, in an unusually candid notice of resignation filed at Companies House on 21 April 2017, quoting the absence of evidence to support the group’s going concern status as explanation for their resignation.
  • No evidence of any investment from Dean Holdsworth or Ken Anderson.
  • A series of sanctions imposed by the EFL, including a transfer embargo for non-compliance with financial fair play regulations.

We applaud Bolton Wanderers supporters and the BWST in taking this stance, and reiterate that the time is right for all stakeholders in the game - including the F.A., leagues, club owners, Politicians and supporters - to come together to enforce change in the regulatory system to prevent the recurrence of problems like we are witnessing at Bolton Wanderers.

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As a founder of the BWFCST, I would respond to "Fabian De Freitas" as follows:
1. The Trust is run by an elected board. No ballot was needed as there were insufficient members nominated to require ballot.
2. BWFCST board speaks for its members.
3. It has not been confirmed that the EFL have lifted all player trading restrictions.
4. Th BlueMarble debt has allegedly been rescheduled, but still remains a debt.
5. Next elections are being scheduled & accounts were filed Feb '17. Next due Feb

The BWFCST is run by unelected members.
It is quite clear that they do not speak for a majority of BWFC supporters
All the issues raised above, in an article at best ill informed, have been dealt with to the current position where the club has now moved out of embargo and Blumarble have agreed a deal with the club ownership.
I'd suggest that Supporters Direct should keep out of commenting on BWFC issues and look at the failings within the BWFCST, of which there are many.
Elections, accounts?