KEN Anderson believes Wanderers are almost ready to take a financial step forward with the filing of overdue company accounts.
Concern has steadily grown among supporters since the takeover earlier this year that accounting information, due at Companies House by the end of March, has not been submitted.
Transfer restrictions have been in place at Wanderers since the end of last year and the overdue paperwork is seen as one of the key elements in convincing the Football League to remove them.
Lifting the embargo has proved more difficult than the new ownership first imagined – with Anderson admitting the discovery of “several unwanted skeletons in the closet” after his joint takeover with Dean Holdsworth in March.
It is believed legal and professional costs of more than £2million were inherited after the club hit financial problems last year and were forced into a series of High Court hearings to defend a winding-up petition from HMRC.
Several personnel changes have also delayed the process but the Bolton chairman explained the last hurdle before passing accounts on to Companies House will be to hold a final consultation with the league to ensure the club is complying with their wishes moving into the next financial year.
“We are ready to submit the accounts,” he told The Bolton News. “Before we do that I want to consult with the Football League and ask for their thoughts, if there is anything else they would want to include as a going concern.
“We are very close to submitting them now but once I hand them in I can’t make any changes, statements or notes, so we want to be absolutely sure we are exactly where we want to be.”
A survey by the Bolton Wanderers Supporters’ Trust found an overwhelming majority of their members wanted them to approach the club’s ownership to ask for clarification on overdue accounts and the impact they are having on lifting the transfer embargo.
Concerns were raised at last week’s AGM by Trust board members and members of the audience, which prompted the issue of a three-question survey which has currently been answered by more than 800 people.
The Bolton News understands between 95 and 97 per cent of the completed surveys indicated they would like the board to make an official request. Anderson has also assured fans, however, that all football creditors – including HMRC – are now up to date and paid in full.
“Most of our high-level debtors have now been dealt with,” he said. “One or two smaller matters are still in the process and with our legal team.
“It has not prevented us from bringing players in.
“I think this club will soon be in the healthiest financial position it has been in since Eddie Davies withdrew his funding.”
The Supporters’ Trust has issued a statement regarding the overdue accounts.
It reads: “Mr Anderson stated publicly in June the 2014/15 accounts were ready to be signed and the Football League restrictions were hopefully being lifted before pre-season. Almost four months have passed and the situation regarding the accounts and the restrictions is still not clear.
“We are unsure of what Mr Anderson meant when saying recently part of the delay in filing the accounts was down to a change in accountants. As far as we are aware, Deloitte is still the auditor and the removal of them or their resignation would be subject to a formal process under company law.
“As Mr Anderson stated recently in a radio interview, of course the accounts won’t be pleasant reading. For us it is the going concern disclosure we are keen to read.
“This aspect of the accounts is something that does not relate to the previous regime or the position at 30 June 2015 but rather it is the opinion of the directors and the auditors as at the day they sign and file the accounts.
“That has everything to do with the current regime, the financial position of the club and the directors’ prospects of being able to operate solvently for the coming year.
“The EFL rules also mandate that if a Championship club, as we were as at 30 June 2015, presents anything other than a positive going concern disclosure, then special procedures apply which involve increased scrutiny from the Football League.
“We won’t know anything until the accounts are published. These are now six months overdue and around three months beyond the normal acceptable limit for Companies House.
“The Supporters’ Trust has a clear mandate to ask these questions of the club, with more than 97 per cent voting in favour in our recent survey.
“Furthermore, 95 per cent of our members mandated us to raise appropriate questions with the Football League.”
l The first Bolton Wanderers Supporters Association meeting of the season has been scheduled to take place on Thursday in the Macron Stadium’s Wanderers Suite. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
The evening’s guests will be James Henry and Keshi Anderson.
Entry is free for members and £5 for non-members, a fee which will include membership and free access to future meetings for 12 months.
There will be a raffle to win a signed Josh Vela shirt.