David Rubin & Partners to oversee Bolton Wanderers administration

17 May 2019 Consultancy.uk 5 min. read

One of the English Football League’s oldest members is on the brink of collapse, following its appointment of administrators at the end of the 2018/19 season. Bolton Wanderers has installed David Rubin & Partners to oversee the process, as the North-Western footballing institution faces a major point-deduction at the start of next season.

Beyond the lofty broadcast revenues of the English Premier League, many of English football’s oldest clubs are in a financially precarious state. Illustrating the current state of play, more than 23% of English Championship clubs and 40% of Scottish Premiership teams believe their finances need urgent attention, or are a cause for real concern – evoking memories of 2008 FA Cup winners Portsmouth and former Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers’ respective periods of administration in 2012.

To the despair of their loyal fans, then, throughout the 2018/19 season a number of lower-tier sides have flirted with collapse. While Notts County’s beleaguered ownership endured a face-off with tax authorities, the club was relegated from the Football League for the first time in its 157-year history. Elsewhere, Blackpool FC entered into receivership – where a person is placed in custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights, especially in cases where a company cannot meet financial obligations or enters bankruptcy – to find a buyer for the North-Western club.David Rubin & Partners to oversee Bolton Wanderers administration

Now, another footballing entity in the region has collapsed into administration, following a sustained period of financial difficulty. David Rubin & Partners, the insolvency firm which also took charge of Blackpool FC's receivership, has been placed in charge of Bolton Wanderers' administration process. Paul Appleton and Asher Miller have been appointed joint-administrators for Bolton, as well as its holding company, Burnden Leisure.

The news did not come as a surprise, as the Macron Stadium has been in turmoil for the duration of its current ownership’s reign. It was only able to avoid administration in September 2018 thanks to an emergency loan of £5 million from former owner Eddie Davies, just days before his death. Notices of Intention to appoint administrators had been filed by Fildraw Limited – the company through which the Trust representing the family of the late Davies lent substantial sums to the club – earlier in the month, and with Bolton petitioned by the HMRC, this time it was clear there was no way out.

The news comes days after The Trotters were relegated to English football’s third-tier following a season marred by financial mismanagement. With the club’s staff routinely going without pay, the situation came to a head when Wanderers players refused to take to the field against Brentford unless the salaries of all club employees were distributed.

Inevitable collapse

“The long-running financial crisis at our club has been well-documented,” a statement from the playing squad read. “As has the fact that we, the playing staff, have yet to receive our March salaries. Five of our coaching staff are also yet to be paid for March. We have endeavoured to continue our training and playing commitments during this extremely difficult time, with seemingly no resolution in sight.”

Owner Ken Anderson used the opportunity to attack the players, questioning their ‘loyalty’ to the club. However, Anderson was unable to deflect blame for the dire state of affairs at the club, with his non-domicile status in particular drawing fire from the club’s supporters. As the club continued to struggle to make ends meet, Anderson’s status as a tax-haven resident was routinely called into question, leading at one stage to a confused email from the Bolton owner himself, correcting “inaccuracies” in the press. In it, he denied his wealth was holed up in Switzerland while stating “I am a resident of Monaco”, another tax-haven.

At the same time, Anderson routinely struggled to find a buyer for the club who would meet his expectations. Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini had made a bid to take over the club from controversial owner Ken Anderson, but Wanderers said the deal was off. Bassini, who had been given 48 hours to prove to the EFL he had the funds to take over, told BBC Radio Manchester at the start of May that he was still interested in buying Bolton, amid reports that his bid was on the brink of collapse. With such a calamitous season off the pitch, it came as little surprise that Wanderers were unable to dodge relegation from the Championship.

Commenting on the situation, Paul Appleton said, "This has obviously been a long-running situation and it is vitally important that we quickly establish the position of both the football club and the holding company. It has got to the stage where the Trust could not sit back and allow the club to go into liquidation. Decisive action had to be taken and the Trust believes the decision is in the best interests of Bolton Wanderers. Everybody at the club as well as the supporters need a sense of clarity and that is what I will be seeking to provide as quickly as possible."

The EFL meanwhile confirmed to the BBC that it would "commence discussions" with the administrators "with the aim of achieving a long-term future for the club". Regardless of these discussions, however, Bolton now face a seemingly impossible task if they are to return to the Championship at the first time of asking. The club, which was one of the founding members of the Football League, will be stung by a 12-point penalty at the start of the next campaign, a standard punishment faced by footballing entities which enter into administration. Wanderers will have to hope that at least their administrative saga will have ended by then.