Bolton Wanderers intend to field a team comprising mostly youth and development players when they play their first pre-season friendly on Sunday at York City.
The club is not yet out of administration, and though the Football Ventures consortium is close to a takeover, the uncertainty has left Bolton with seven contracted senior professionals, two of whom are goalkeepers and no defenders.
Bolton were relegated from the Championship last season, and will start the new season with a 12-point deduction because of going into administration in May. The question of a further punishment for failing to fulfil their final fixture of the season has not been resolved, though a semblance of normality returned a few days ago when the padlocks were removed from the training ground at Lostock and players were allowed in to commence pre-season work.
With only three weeks to go to that start of the new season the club is confident players can be found in time as long as the takeover is completed in the next week or so. The manager, Phil Parkinson, has a list of available players he would be able to sign quickly and other clubs have been in touch with offers of players to take on loan.
In a separate development Bolton’s administrators are taking legal action against Laurence Bassini, the former Watford owner who unsuccessfully tried to buy the club from Ken Anderson this year. It was the collapse of the proposed deal put forward by Bassini, who has twice been declared bankrupt and was banned from owning an EFL club for three years in 2013, that led to Bolton being placed in administration after debts incurred under Anderson remained unpaid. The administrators subsequently made the Football Ventures consortium their preferred bidders, only to hear Bassini claim on TalkSport that he has offered more money up front.
“We note with dismay the interview given by Laurence Bassini on Friday morning,” a statement on behalf of David Rubin and Partners said. “The simple fact is that for several reasons Mr Bassini was not the successful bidder under the process we have carried out to sell Bolton Wanderers, and his bid was not the best for the club. He was not able to satisfy the proof or source of funding within the time frame and that remains the case. Subsequently Mr Bassini has sent a vast number of erratic and threatening emails and texts, as well as making threatening calls, to the point where we have instructed lawyers to deal with them.”
Bassini claims West Ham’s co-chairman David Gold is willing to back him to the tune of £25m, and denies any wrongdoing. “If they [the administrators] think my texts are criminal I suggest they call the police,” he said. “They are not threatening texts, they just say they are ignoring my offer and by leaving the club in limbo it could end up going into liquidation. They keep saying they have a preferred bidder but we are the better choice because we are footballing people and we’ll stabilise the club financially.”