For the Football Ventures consortium, whose protracted pursuit of the football club and hotel now looks to be drawing to a conclusion, any celebration at having signed a deal should be cut short.
From the outside, it appears indecisiveness has cost them valuable time, and led to significant concerns being voiced on the financial stability of their offer.
What could at one point have been a joyous change of control, an full stop to the frustrating days of Ken Anderson, is now feeling more like a passing of the panic baton.
It had been hoped by all concerned that a deal would be struck by Wednesday, mirrored in the national press, who insisted unanimously that things were “imminent”. But, in reality, there was still one crucial matter to sort – and as has been the way in the last few weeks, it all centred on the hotel.
Sorting a sale with two sets of administrators has been a complex matter. But whereas the hotel has ticked along quite nicely over the summer months, its business restored to relative normality, the time pressures on the club have been significant.
Supporters scoffed at the EFL’s statement, first released through The Bolton News on Wednesday, for stating the obvious.
“The ongoing situation at Bolton Wanderers remains a significant concern for the EFL and we will continue our efforts with the Administrators to find a solution,” said the new executive chair, Debbie Jevans.
“I urge all interested parties to work diligently together in order to reach a successful conclusion as soon as possible with the season fast approaching.”
Whereas the content of the statement was relatively anodyne, the hidden message to both Football Ventures and Quantuma, who have been placed in charge of the hotel sale, was obvious.
There is no question of the football club’s administrators, Rubin and Partners, taking the team into the new season, sanctioning contracts, season tickets or the like. In short, the alternatives available to FV and Quantuma were: Strike a deal, or the club goes bust.
Thankfully, just as things seemed about to take a very dark turn indeed, some progress was made – and as we went to press last night there was a real chance that an agreement would be reached which could at least satisfy the EFL’s concern, and perhaps even lead to some positive communication to the supporters.
Football Ventures appear adamant they must first secure the hotel, which is very much part of their business strategy, before completing a deal to buy the club. It may bode well for the future but their rationale has not sat well with many supporters.
Business sensibilities seldom marry with the emotions of football fans but the significant delays in getting this deal done have also worked against the club operating effectivelty in pre-season – from player recruitment, to kit sales and season tickets.
As Laurence Bassini listed off his many grievances with administrators, consultants and former owners at Bolton on Monday evening, two supporters stomped away from the huddle.
“I just want a club to support,” said one. “We want Bolton Wanderers back.”
Their words should strike a chord and are hopefully heard loud and clear by those involved at Football Ventures too.
For far too long the agenda has been dominated by money, when central to the success of Bolton Wanderers – now and forever more – will be the success of its football team.
Of course, the club needs a period of stability after the uncertainty of the last three or four years, and that will only be achieved if the incoming owners are able to implement a workable budget with sensible ideas. But at the same time, Football Ventures must recognise that the manager and team which represents the club on the pitch each and every week will have a massive bearing on whether fans buy into their plan, or whether – as their predecessor found out to his cost – they refuse.
This is a fanbase with understandable trust issues. It is highly unlikely that anyone in the boardroom will be serenaded without scrutiny.
Too much time has already been lost to make this the perfect handover, so Football Ventures and both administration teams must ensure that whatever paperwork needs to be exchanged over this weekend is done, and that next week can – entirely rightly – be about what team will go out against Wycombe Wanderers on August 3.