Bolton fight for survival as kids secure surprise first league point

August 12 – The financial soap opera that has become the story of Bolton Wanderers’ battle for survival took another twist at the end of last week. It was then followed by perhaps the most noteworthy result of England’s football weekend as the club managed a 0-0 draw with Coventry sending out a team that had an average age 19.

Bolton Wanderers are currently in administration with the Football Ventures consortium being the preferred buyer to take the club out of receivership.

However, that deal failed to complete on Thursday after a last minute High Court order forced the administrators, David Rubin and Partners, to suspend the sale of the club’s parent company Burnden Leisure.

The court action was brought by former Watford owner Laurence Bassini whose own bid to buy the club failed in May. Bassini, in 2013, was banned for three years by the English Football League (EFL) from being involved in a position of authority with any EFL club. His deal for Bolton was aborted after he failed to provide proof of funds.

Administrator Paul Appleton of David Rubin & Partners said, when Football Ventures took the preferred position to buy the club, that they had “made the highest offer by a substantial margin. They were also able to show the viability of a minimum two-year business plan for the club which was of the utmost importance.”

Following the court order Appleton said: “It is with a combination of outrage and disgust that I have to inform Bolton Wanderers fans that the deal to sell the club to Football Ventures has been temporarily suspended.”

While Bassini’s move has created renewed uncertainty around the future of the Trotters, who started the season with a 12-point deduction, the first point of the season at home to Coventry shows that there is life in the old club yet – even if there was an element of serendipity with the visitors having three goals disallowed.

Their opening game at Wycombe had been under threat of suspension until Bolton proved their financial viability – 1,600 supporters travelled to Buckinghamshire to see the team, with only three contracted outfield players present, lose 2-0.

Ticket sales for Saturday’s visit of Coventry did not go on sale until Friday and saw 9,000 sold in just a few hours after the EFL said there was “no legitimate reason” to postpone the fixture.

Bolton Wanderers coach Phil Parkinson, who the previous week had only three outfield contracted players to select, for the game against Coventry was even more restricted having no senior players to select from and fielding a starting line-up with an average age of 19 – the club’s youngest ever selection.

Parkinson, who along with his staff has been working unpaid, summed up the mood of many when he told the BBC after the game: “No more messing about, get your heads together quickly and sort this mess out because everybody is absolutely sick and tired of it.

“Mr Bassini, leave us alone, please leave us alone. Leave this great club alone to get on with building its future back together.”

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