Bolton Wanderers faced unprecedented drama today, as the club nearly slipped into administration, MARC ILES reports.

IF Wanderers’ escape from Championship relegation in May was an incredible story, their swerve to avoid administration today took brinkmanship to a whole new level.

As the clock ticked towards 10am – the point at which a court order would be electronically filed and an administrator walk through the door to assume control of the club – hope that Bolton could avoid such disaster was slowly ebbing away.

At the centre of it all was a loan supplied by Essex-based finance company BluMarble which, since being taken out at the end of 2015, had grown with interest and was now worth £4.8million.

Bolton’s chairman and owner, Ken Anderson, had not personally taken out the loan – this had been done by his previous business partner, former footballer Dean Holdsworth via his company Sports Shield.

Refinancing the loan had been the original plan but the pair disagreed with how that could be done. Eventually Anderson bought out Holdsworth’s shares to become sole owner, taking on the full responsibility for the BluMarble debt, which then fell due on September 1, 2018.

The chairman’s demeanour in the weeks leading up to the deadline had been relaxed.

“I see no reason why the debt will not be repaid,” he said on the eve of the new season.

But whether by accident or design, the money remained unpaid. Concern grew, and by last weekend the prospect of BluMarble having to call in an insolvency practitioner to recover their debt was looking a likely one.

No English club had suffered administration since 2013. And for it to happen to one of the Football League’s founder members was unthinkable.

Phil Parkinson’s side had made a bright start to the season but faced being penalised by a 12-point deduction, which would have left them on minus one point and propping up the entire table. After such a hammer blow, relegation would surely have been a formality.

After The Bolton News revealed the true extent of the problems on Monday evening, Anderson went a step further in a statement on Wanderers’ official website released close to midnight.

“As they come to understand and appreciate the consequences and repercussions of this action, l feel sure that they will live to regret their actions for what can only have been personal reasons as their actions do not make commercial sense,” he said.

“They will now need to fund the club administration going forward, which will take a minimum of three months and will automatically put the club in a two-year transfer embargo and a minimum immediate deduction of 12 points.”

Anderson said he had an offer for the full amount plus interest turned down – but sources in the BluMarble camp denied his claim.

Few fans had a restful night after such a sobering declaration but early the next morning a rescue effort was launched.

Incredibly, first team manager Phil Parkinson was among the chief instigators, ringing round the primary players in a frantic effort to preserve his team’s excellent start. And within a few hours it was evident some progress had been made. Whereas talks had collapsed the night before, the two sides were once again exchanging information.

Still the situation appeared a serious one. Andy Hosking, the man who had been appointed by insolvency practitioners Quantuma, boarded a train for Manchester and was in the vicinity of the University of Bolton Stadium waiting to commence his duties.

Emails and phone calls exchanged with increasing pace until, in the end, it was with the financial help of another third party, understood to be local businessman Michael James that the offer met with BluMarble’s satisfaction.

Still there was an extended deadline to meet, but while signs appeared positive behind the scenes it was not until later that it became clear administration had been staved off. Even then, official confirmation was not forthcoming as the Bolton News went to print.

Last minute business has become a hallmark of Anderson’s reign at Bolton, mirrored by the team who were able to secure their Championship status last season with a similar late burst.

For some supporters, however, this particular journey to the edge of the abyss was a little too close for comfort and questions will be asked about whether Anderson has the financial wherewithal to maintain a club at this level.