The great man’s statue stands outside a stadium now in lockdown, its staff unpaid and the club’s once-grand reputation lying in tatters.
A week after becoming the only team in the league’s history to force a game to be postponed because its players were on strike over wages, another unwanted first was achieved yesterday when the EFL confirmed a walkover win would be granted to Brentford because the league simply couldn’t guarantee the game could get played.
Day to day life at Bolton has now descended into farce. Employees were faced yesterday with the prospect of not knowing who actually owned the club – Ken Anderson, Laurence Bassini, or potentially an administrator.
After an ‘official statement’ was put out on behalf of Anderson on Thursday night claiming all ties with Bassini had been severed, the former Watford owner went on the offensive early the next morning, informing every media outlet in Christendom that the statement was false and he was in charge.
The EFL were forced to step in with a note to clarify that Bassini has not yet produced the requisite funding to complete his takeover but not before more unseemly rants which heaped extra embarrassment on a founder member of the Football League.
With the Bank Holiday now upon us, there seems little chance of an administrator being appointed until Tuesday at the earliest, meaning once again the future of the club hangs precariously in the balance.
Creditors are waiting to jump on a winding-up petition at the High Court, which if allowed, could be the death knell for 145 years of history.
The Lion of Vienna lived through difficult times at Bolton, once appealing to the folk at Burnden Park to help keep the club alive by subscribing to the Lifeline Lottery – an organisation which continues to thrive to this day.
That fund – which operates entirely independently from the club – has provided vital facilities for players and supporters down the years, from hand-dryers in the concourse toilets to the all-weather ‘bubble’ at Lostock.
But those grey days in the early eighties were a different world. No longer can Bolton keep the undersoil heating switched off to save a few pounds for wages, or have John McGovern jog a half-marathon to help top up the funds. The cash sums this club now needs are totalling millions and way out of reach of the common man.
Annual losses are believed to be £7million, and this after a period of austerity in which they have paid a transfer fee for just one player in four years and have one of the smallest wage budgets in the Championship.
The crippling lack of investment can be seen all around the stadium, its once-white space-age pillars and trusses now greyed with time, walls weathered and corridors punctuated with buckets to collect drips from an ageing ventilation system.
On the pitch, there has been nothing to divert attention away from the negativity. Phil Parkinson's side will bow out at Nottingham Forest tomorrow afternoon and head to League One with little fanfare, even though both players and manager have been badly let down by their employers.
It has become increasingly apparent since Bolton toppled out of the Premier League and then lost its benefactor in Eddie Davies that they are swimming against the financial tide.
We have been hoping against hope that another knight in shining armour will spring to the club’s rescue and while Bassini has promised investment, he is running out of time to convince people his plan will work.
Administration was once a word feared in these parts when Davies passed on control to Anderson and Dean Holdsworth and yet, to a fanbase sick and tired of this saga, it now looks like a preferred outcome.
Nobody needs promises of a return to the Premier League, simply that the name of Bolton Wanderers will live on, and that whomever takes the reins appreciates what they have got.
This could be the ideal time to press the reset button and start to live properly within their means.
No more circus, no more web-notes, no more High Court hearings, just a football team of which the town can be proud and a club which represents the people who pay through the turnstiles. That notion, I suspect, would be one that Nat Lofthouse would be proud to endorse.