Hibs sign Christian Doidge - Will Bolton live to regret it?
CHRISTIAN Doidge has finally got his big move… But will Bolton Wanderers live to regret one of the most embarrassing transfer failures in their history?
Scottish side last night signed the Forest Green striker for £250,000 – the same sort of up-front payment which had been agreed by Ken Anderson on deadline day last summer.
The sorry tale of how the Welshman was forced to cancel buying a home in the North West and return to play in League Two dominated the headlines at the start of the year, helped in no small measure by a public spat between the two clubs’ owners.
But while Doidge understandably got sympathy for the way his Championship dream had ended, his record in a Bolton shirt was hardly exemplary.
Although there were some extenuating circumstances, the striker’s CV will always note that his time at Wanderers yielded just one goal – a well-taken one at Rotherham United – in 17 appearances, nine of which came from the subs’ bench.
There were signs Doidge was getting up to speed in the highest level of football he had yet played in his career but, with hindsight, were the club’s deteriorating circumstances ever going to allow him to blossom at that level?
Had his move not collapsed, would he have simply joined the band of contracted players who faced a choice to walk away for nothing this summer, or stay and be paid eventually?
We will never know. Should his move to Edinburgh go ahead, however, there will be no shortage of interest from this neck of the woods on how he progresses, rather like the loser’s reveal on Bullseye.
When Doidge initially arrived at Bolton on August 31, 2018, he was billed as a £1million man in the headlines, although the finer details of the deal revealed that three-quarters of that fee was only contingent on him achieving goal-scoring and appearance targets, international games or indeed Wanderers reaching the Premier League. Unbeknown at the time, Forest Green had also agreed to cover Doidge’s wages until January 3, when the move was to be completed.
Wanderers nor the EFL have ever confirmed whether transfer restrictions had prevented the fee from being paid in the first place
, or whether Anderson had simply hoped to kick the can further down the road. Either way, by the time the deadline arrived, Bolton were indeed under a so-called ‘soft embargo’ because they owed money to football creditors, including the PFA. As a result, they were unable to complete the transaction.
The new year was only three days old when Dale Vince, the Forest Green owner, went on the offensive.
"It became clear to us that Bolton entered into a contract to loan and then buy Christian last August without the means to honour it, and perhaps the intention to do so as well. They haven't even paid his wages for the last four months (we have).
"It's not just FGR that have been let down badly by Bolton, but Christian too.
"Bolton's Chairman, Ken Anderson, made a lot of promises on the last day of the transfer window, both to Christian and FGR, and has kept none of them. This is all his work and from talking to Ken he feels immune from the consequences - but some of these promises are written in legally binding contracts, and we'll be pursuing them.”
Anderson responded by branding Vince “one of the strangest people I have ever met in football” and denying that a deal was due until later in the month. His 1,100-word epic also included nods to medieval poet John Lydgate and Sir Winston Churchill.
A curious saga then took another lurch towards the ridiculous as Vince invited Bolton fans to buy T-shirts emblazoned with the logo “No Ken Do” and attend a game against Bury. More than 100 fans did just that and got a free pint for their troubles.
The whole affair may have made for an entertaining diversion had a players’ career not been at stake – and Doidge returned to Gloucestershire to complete the rest of the season in League Two, finishing the campaign with 15 goals in total.
"Everything that's gone on at the club recently, I'm quite glad I'm out of there if I'm honest," said Doidge in May.
"Obviously it was disappointing [not to join them permanently]. As a young lad I never thought I'd play Championship football for a club the size of Bolton, so it hurt a little bit, but everything happens for a reason."
His exit proved a tremor which sparked an avalanche of ill-feeling towards Anderson at Bolton, and the chairman never really recovered any traction with supporters who by January 21 were protesting in their thousands against him outside the stadium.
Even though Doidge may be moving on to pastures new, the matter still threatens to hang over the next ownership. Vince commenced legal action in March and the claim – understood to be worth around £600,000 – was one of the ‘hidden debts’ which initially put-off the Football Ventures consortium from buying the club solvent.
Two months later, Wanderers were in administration and Anderson no longer in charge.
His time at Bolton may have been brief, and relatively unsuccessful, but Doidge’s story is likely to live long in the memory banks of those who were around to witness it. https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/sport/17729650.hibs-sign-christian-doidge-will-bolton-live-to-regret-it/?ref=mr&lp=3