Features / Football

Bolton Wanderers: Marc Iles’ take on the club’s financial woes

Dean Holdsworth took ownership just over a year ago. Photo credit: Ian S

With Bolton currently embroiled in financial disarray The Bolton News’ Wanderers reporter Marc Iles discusses the club’s situation as speculation of unrest continues to persist.

Chairman Ken Anderson and co-owner Dean Holdsworth have been at odds in recent weeks about the severity of the financial predicament that the League One outfit find themselves in.

Iles’ reporting on the Trotters has been mainly concerned with off the field matters rather than the actual football.

“The funny thing is there’s not a great difference financially compared with last year,” he said.

“The new owners were well aware of the cash flow problem and what they were getting into.

“At the start they were losing £1m a month and we are led to believe it is now just under £800k a month.”

Arguments over how the club should be financed in the future are to blame for how the situation has manifested, according to Iles.

“The crisis has happened because the owners are in significant disagreement with each other over the future financing of the club,” he added.

“I personally believe that it has been managed very unprofessionally on both sides.

“The statements have meant I’ve had to begrudgingly write unnecessary headlines because of the negative affect it is having not only on the fan base but the players as well.”

Bolton’s turmoil could threaten to derail their campaign as uncertainty continues to linger.

Iles admitted the problems have forced him to go beyond his normal reporting duties.

He continued: “We didn’t really sign up to be financial journalists, we signed up to sit of the side of a pitch and watch 11 blokes kick a football around and pass comment on that.

“When you start using words like administration, cash flows and the financial wording I have had to get used to over the past couple of years at Bolton Wanderers then you are out of your comfort zone.”

Iles went on to explain it is hard to determine which individual is to blame with both accusing the other of acting in the wrong way.

“It is extremely difficult to say who is in the right and who is in the wrong,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to both Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth who each make their own case and are adamant what they have done is the right and what the other guy has done is wrong.

“I’m not a judge and shouldn’t be the person passing any comment on it.”

Facts have been hard to come by with most of the events happening away from the public domain, according to Iles.

“All I can do is look out for the football club and pass judgement on how I think things have been handled,” he said.

“It has been difficult trying to report the facts as a lot off this stuff has been off the record with nods, winks and conversations behind closed doors.”

Bolton’s current issues bare a startling resemblance to a year ago when Anderson and Holdsworth initially purchased the club which saved Wanderers from administration and a winding up order to HM Revenue and Customs.

Before Anderson and Holdsworth arrived Iles explained the club was in complete ruin which prompted them to call on the services of financial advisor Trevor Birch.

“Some of the stuff I’ve heard about how the club was handled before they came in would make your toes curl,” he said.

“Most of it hasn’t hit the public domain possibly out of respect to former owner Eddie Davies and Chairman Phil Gartside, who is no longer with us.

“After Phil Gartside had fallen into very ill health a year ago the infrastructure of the club had completely gone to pot.”

Even when Birch did arrive Iles was well aware he was by no means going to steer Wanderers clear of administration.

“We knew it would have been difficult to avoid administration when Trevor Birch came in,” he said.

“He made no secret of the fact he was effectively pre administrating and selling off stuff to make sure the worst didn’t happen.”

Despite the calamity of last year Iles did suggest things had improved in 2017 because of Anderson’s efforts.

“In all fairness to Ken Anderson the cash flow problems are there but he is trying to make things right,” he said.

There are issues but they are not as bad as 12 months ago.”

Further fuel was added to an ever increasing fire after the sale of forward Zach Clough to Nottingham Forest for £2.5m on deadline day.

Holdsworth claims he was not aware of any deal to sell the starlet.

Iles continued: “It was unwise of Ken Anderson to say before Christmas that star players wouldn’t be sold as you’ll set yourself up for a fall.

“It highlighted the lack of communication between the two key men at the football club.

“Dean Holdsworth said he wasn’t told about the Clough deal and Ken Anderson said he didn’t mention it which is an odd way of running things in a boardroom.”

Iles did suggest that the club would be alright until the end of the month but problems would start to mount further down the line.

“It is about getting through this season and financially they should be okay until the end of March when the money runs out for Zach Clough,” he said.

“Maintaining a cash flow going until the end of this season is the big hurdle beyond that.

“Ken Anderson has already said there are a lot of players out of contract so you would hope that this time next year the club will be operating on a much more stable financial footing.”

Iles believes that there could be further developments regarding the ownership of the club in the near future with speculation continuing to mount.

He concluded: “Ken Anderson said in a Q&A before Christmas that he’s in it for the long haul but rumours continue to linger that he is looking to sell.

“I’d say Dean Holdsworth would like to remain at the club in some capacity but with the whole situation it wouldn’t surprise me if he sold his shares to the right person.

“I do sympathise entirely with the mess they inherited and have had to clean up but the petty disagreement really does need to be brought to some kind of conclusion as it is doing nobody any good.”





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