Bolton Wanderers’ crucial Championship relegation battle against Ipswich Town has been given the go-ahead amid fears it would have to be postponed or played behind closed doors on safety grounds after the club’s staff were finally paid six days late.
But Bolton’s first team squad returned to training on Thursday after ending their 48-hour strike in protest at unpaid wages even though they and the club’s coaching staff have still to receive their March salaries.
Telegraph Sport understands Bolton’s players have been infuriated by Ken Anderson’s attempts to blame them for the Ipswich match being under threat and are considering their next course of action as relations between the squad and the owner hit a new low.
The local safety advisory group (SAG), which compromises Bolton council and the police, fire and ambulance services, temporarily withdrew the safety certificate for the University of Bolton Stadium at a meeting on Tuesday amid fears for public safety with the club unable to guarantee funding an adequate matchday operation.
But Anderson confirmed on Thursday that the fixture – and Tuesday’s game at home to Middlesbrough – would be played as scheduled after SAG lifted the prohibition notice. The news came hours after support staff finally received their salaries for last month. Anderson had attempted on Wednesday to blame the players’ two-day strike for threatening the fixture.
“I can confirm that Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture against Ipswich Town and next Tuesday’s game against Middlesbrough will go ahead as scheduled after the safety advisory group lifted the prohibition notice,” Anderson said in a “note from the chairman” posted on the club’s official website. “I would like to thank all the agencies involved as well as the council for their support in this matter. I would also like to thank Shaun Harvey and the EFL as well as Michael James [Prescott Business Parks] for their support.”
Bolton were granted another two weeks to conclude a takeover with former Watford owner Laurence Bassini by the High Court on Wednesday. The club are being pursued by HMRC for £1.2 million in unpaid taxes and face the threat of liquidation or administration.
Bassini believes he needs another fortnight to complete the due diligence process and has talked about appointing Sir Dave Richards, the former Premier League chairman, as chairman if his buy-out is successful.
Richards is understood to be open to the prospect but only if the club’s debts are all settled and he is given control of the running of the club by Bassini, neither of which can be guaranteed. Bassini has also floated the idea of appointing the former Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion chairman John Williams in tandem with Richards as well as Brett Warburton, Bolton’s former vice-chairman.
Richards, 75, has not been involved in football for the past four years, beyond the occasional advisory role, and spends the majority of his time now running a wine business. He was close with Phil Gartside and Eddie Davies, the former Bolton chairman and owner respectively.
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