TO any casual onlooker it was business as usual at Lostock yesterday as Phil Parkinson and his staff prepared for a weekend visit to league leaders Norwich City.

Beneath the surface, however, a genuine concern is brewing that this is the start of a winter of discontent at Wanderers.

Tomorrow, club owner Ken Anderson has assured players they will be paid their delayed November salary. His promise, made on Friday afternoon, was enough to ensure the players fought out a 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic and carried on as normal at the training ground over the last few days. But what would happen next should a problem arise?

Such a situation is barely worth thinking about for Phil Parkinson, who has already had to negotiate more than his fair share of mediation between the club owner and his squad this season.

There is no suggestion from the players that a repeat of the strike which forced the cancellation of a summer friendly against St Mirren would be considered and nor would the Professional Footballer’s Association allow it to happen on their watch.

But one must question what effect persistent issues with payment have on a group of players who must bank on team spirit to overcome the fact the squad has been assembled for next to nothing in Championship terms.

Parkinson has worked hard to create a strong bond within his players since walking through the doors in the summer of 2016 and inheriting a group whose confidence had been wrecked by the financial issues which had gone on before. In many ways, he must feel like he is edging back towards square one.

The manager and his staff have also been hit in the pocket – not only with the delayed November pay but also with bonuses still owed from last season for keeping the club in the division against all odds.

There is no obvious end in sight to the financial issues as Ken Anderson looks to strike a deal with someone to sell the club who has greater financial wherewithal.

Asked his thoughts about a sale after the weekend draw against Wigan, Parkinson said: “If that happens before January it would be great for us. If it doesn’t then we’ll have to do what we have for the last two years and that’s dig deep and work hard for each other.”

Realistically, chances of the club changing hands so quickly are slim to none. Parkinson can only hope that the cash-flow problems which have emerged in the last few weeks do not get worse and have the same devastating impact they did on Neil Lennon’s squad in late 2015.

Wanderers have reduced their losses since those troubled times but still need an injection of around £6million a year to break even. Last season that came in the shape of Gary Madine’s sale to Cardiff City but this year there is no obvious asset in the squad who could attract such a fee.

How exactly Anderson plans to tackle the short-term financial obligations is a matter of concern among Wanderers fans.

The £5m bridging loan his Inner Circle Investment company took out to cover the repayment of BluMarble in September is reportedly due in early February. That money was loaned on to Wanderers – Anderson claims at the same interest rate – and could end up being a major incentive for him to find a buyer a quickly as possible.

Last October Wanderers produced a glossy document to send to prospective investors, quoting a £25million, bottom line, to buy the club, debt free. Last month, Anderson verified claims that a £30m bid had been made by two foreign parties – but later claimed that neither had been able to show clear proof of funding.

To put the level of profit Mr Anderson could have claimed in such a deal, the initial takeover of Eddie Davies’s majority stake cost just one pound.

A Companies House document also lists a £150,000 fee his company paid to liquidators Quantuma for Holdsworth’s 37.5 per cent stake to become sole owner.

“The value of any club is what people are willing to pay,” said the Bolton owner, last month.

Anderson’s business methods have not met with universal approval but he claims they have been a necessary evil to get the club on a more stable footing. He even claimed at the start of this season that few teams in the division were in such rude financial health.

Recent events have not painted that picture, and have caused considerable concern among the supporters.

The Bolton News calls on Mr Anderson to address the supporters and explain why players have not been paid on time, coaching staff have not been paid their bonuses for keeping Wanderers in the division last season.

The time has come to put an end to this poker game. Cards on the table.