THE football family rallied around unpaid Bolton Wanderers Football Club staff after an emergency food bank was set up.

In an emotional show of solidarity, hundreds of football fans turned out to Burnden Park and Middlebrook Retail Park to donate essential non-perishable items for the affected employees.

The foodbank effort was spearheaded by Fans Supporting Foodbanks, and supported by Bolton's Urban Outreach as well as Fans Supporting Foodbanks Huddersfield Town Supporters Association.

Liverpool FC, Everton FC, Huddersfield Town AFC, Leeds United FC and Blackpool were all represented, among others.

Dave Kelly, chairman of Fans Supporting Foodbanks, said: "One of the most eagerly anticipated days in the football calendar was Cup Final day. Unfortunately it won't be for the victims of the debacle at Bolton Wanderers FC.

"In times of adversity, the football family stands together.

"I think it is absolutely appalling what is happening to a proud club like Bolton with a long long proud history.

"Former employees contacted us via social media because they had no food and were going hungry."

During a turbulent year for the club on and off the field, non-playing employees have not been paid for several weeks.

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.

Lifelong Wanderers fan Tom Richards, aged 34 from Preston, said: "This is a show of solidarity for them. It is not nice for any business to suffer, especially when job losses are involved, but when it is a football club central to people's lives, you have got to rally round and do what you can.

"I cannot even begin to imagine what the staff are going through at the moment. I hope things get sorted as soon as possible so they can get back to normality.

"It is uncertain times for the club. It has been a shambolic last couple of years from an ownership point of view. Now the right thing has been done, in terms of going into administration, hopefully we can move forward."

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.

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.

Bolton Wanderers fan Rachael Fish, aged 37 from Bromley Cross, turned out on Saturday to donate necessities for club staff, including shower gel, tinned foods, toilet rolls and sanitary products.

She said: "I cannot bear to see people who have lived and supported our club put on the breadline.

"I'm glad my dad is not alive to see this."

Her father, Radio Lancashire's Joe Fish, died in January 2016 after suffering a stroke.

The radio presenter had been an avid Bolton Wanderers supporter since 1958.

Vinny Kirkman and his wife Olwyn were among those who turned out to show their solidarity and to donate food items.

Mr Kirkman, who lives in Westhoughton, said: "I've been a Wanderers fan since 1963.

"We wanted to honour all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep our club running.

"It is a shame that the club has got into this state.

"One good thing that has come out of this crisis is that the supporters of all the clubs have come together."

He added: "To those employees affected by this mess, keep your chin up. You have got support. If there is anything we can do, just ask, and if we can do it, we will."

Mr Kirkman, aged 69, is also taking part in the fundraising walk that has been organised for unpaid Wanderers' staff.

The walk, next Saturday (May 25) will see supporters walk from the old Burnden Park site to the University of Bolton Stadium, collecting funds along the route.

The walk will start at 2pm and all involved are encouraged to wear Bolton Wanderers colours.