BOLTON Wanderers Football Club has opened up an emergency food bank to help hard-hit members of staff.
Employees of the club and Bolton Whites Hotel are being offered fresh food and essentials donated by local businesses and charities after going without pay for the last two weeks.
The Bolton News has also learned that £2,000 of shopping vouchers were sent by a local Championship club to distribute among staff.
Wanderers went into administration on Monday, and it is hoped funds will quickly be made available from locked bank accounts for wages.
Until then, the club’s Community Trust will continue to replenish stocks to ensure staff and their families do not go hungry.
“We have tried to offer whatever support we can to people and that has included trying to get some provisions in order that people can continue to live a normal life,” said club chaplain Phil Mason.
“When people talk about football they often associate it with big salaries and luxurious living but the reality is that many of our staff – as we all do – live within their means. And that becomes very difficult when you have not been paid for a couple of weeks. It has hit home hard.
“Through the chaplaincy and the Community Trust we have been able to offer food provisions. This has been made possible because of the kindness of some local charities, businesses and people who have not done it for publicity, in fact they have asked to remain anonymous.
“The reality is that a lot of staff here live day-to-day, hand-to-mouth but the situation for some means it is impossible to manage.”
Bolton’s players have not been paid since February, although the Professional Footballers’ Association have recently supplied a small loan to tide them over.
The Whites Hotel has been closed since May 1 because the health and safety of staff and guests could no longer be guaranteed as money had not been made available for supplies or to service equipment.
The main stadium and club shop remains open, however, and club caterers Heathcotes & Co are endeavouring to honour events booked at the Premier Suite and inside the stadium, where possible.
Staff have been hit hard by pay problems, caused after former owner Ken Anderson withdrew any form of funding for the club several weeks ago.
Wanderers’ bank accounts have also been frozen due to their ongoing winding-up hearing with HMRC and other creditors at the High Court.
“It has been a stressful time for all of our staff. I wouldn’t wish to go into details for reasons of confidentiality but concern and anxiety has been rife,” Mason said.
“What I have been tremendously impressed with, however, is the resolve of the staff to come into work and to support each other through such testing times.
“I think that is something that needs to be admired and recognised by anyone coming into the club. The best investment they will make is the staff.”