EDDIE Davies claims his four-year effort to sell Bolton Wanderers culminated in just one bidder coming up with the cash.

Commenting on his departure as owner after 13 years, the Isle of Man businessman revealed the Sports Shield and Inner Circle consortium fronted by Dean Holdsworth and Ken Anderson was the only viable option when he handed over control of the club earlier this month.

Davies claimed previously up to 50 parties had expressed an interest in buying his majority stake in Wanderers since they fell out of the Premier League in 2012.

Nevertheless, the club came within a whisker of going into voluntary administration or even liquidation before a deal was finally struck.

“That (finance) is what it all boiled down to,” said Davies. “I have been quoted as saying we dealt with four different parties and these (Sports Shield) are the only ones who showed us they had the money to do the deal. So we did the deal with them.”

After initially leaving the job of finding a new owner to Phil Gartside, Davies took a more hands-on role when the former chairman fell seriously ill.

“I was having to be intimately involved in that situation and that’s why we brought Trevor Birch in, to relieve me of some of that pressure because not only did I have to deal with that but also I had to keep the football club afloat, which was not what I had been working on previously,” he said. “Phil had taken care of all that and obviously that vacuum had to be filled."

The impact of financial problems which surfaced as Davies haggled with potential buyers can be seen in the club’s league position.

Managerless Wanderers are bottom of the table, destined for relegation to League One, and have already started to shed their higher earners in an effort to arrest the slide next season.

Davies disputes he should be held accountable for the club’s decline and has backed new owners to improve fortunes next season, even refusing to rule out a return to the Premier League in the near future.

“I think if Bournemouth can do it, Bolton can,” he said.

“The future for the club under the new regime is to stabilise the position. If we go down then they are going to have to seriously look at the cost base.

“We are going to have to start with a fresh sheet of paper again and work our way up to the best of our ability.

“In terms of infrastructure we have got some of the best in the world, what we need to do now is start getting some results on the pitch.”

Davies is keen to point out that while criticism of his ownership has become commonplace in recent years, there were good times as Wanderers defied the odds to rub shoulders with the game’s elite.

“I think the highlight if you are talking football was the game at Bayern Munich,” he said of the memorable 2-2 UEFA Cup draw at the Allianz Arena in 2007. “We were talking with the Bayern Munich people and (Franz) Beckenbauer said to me ‘well done’ and I said ‘if the game had gone on 10 minutes longer we would have beaten you!’”

Davies’s reign was also not without its sad moments.

“I think what happened with Gary Speed was an absolute tragedy,” he said of the former midfielder, who took his own life in 2011. “I knew his wife and family very well.”

The year before Wanderers toppled out of the Premier League, the collapse of Fabrice Muamba at White Hart Lane and a horrific injury to key midfielder Stuart Holden were also picked out by the former owner.

“Fabrice Muamba managed to survive it and in actual fact that, coupled with Stuart Holden breaking his leg at Manchester United, was probably the turning point in our Premier League career,” he said.

Davies retains a financial interest in Wanderers via £15million of debt and will receive payments for each season the club is in the Championship or Premier League for the next five years.

He also succeeds Nat Lofthouse as club president, which the former owner described as “an honour.”

“I will give the club whatever help I can,” he said. “That will continue for the rest of my life.”

  • Additional reporting by James Davis.