THEY thought it was all over… Well, it will be soon.

After dancing close to liquidation, Bolton Wanderers Football Club was finally afforded a measure of security yesterday as a High Court judge granted them a two-week adjournment to appoint an administrator.

As fans woke up to the worrying prospect it could be the final day in their club’s storied 145-year history, nails were chewed to the quick as the late-morning hearing drew near.

A founder member of the Football League, four-time FA Cup winners, a town institution had been pushed this close to extinction, to the great shame of those involved.

Two parties could take the ultimate decision to put the club and its hotel into administration and give it some protection from the debts which have been allowed to rack up. The Fildraw Trust, who look after the affairs of late owner Eddie Davies, and Ken Anderson, the man who has stood at the helm during a stormy and controversial three-year spell.

By the end of a whirlwind 10-minute exchange in court it emerged that one or both had issued a Notice of Intention to the judge, a document which signals an administrator will be appointed within the next 10 days.

The hotel followed suit moments later with an NOI presented by a representative of Prescot Business Park, the company owned by local businessman Michael James, who holds security over the hotel and car parks.

It was not the cut and dry finale that many had predicted, nor does it give any immediate clarity to the staff and players who are still waiting to be paid. The court’s decision does allow, however, for some rational decisions to be made without the court deadline when it had appeared just the night before that the club’s very future was in significant doubt.

Sources close to the club say the appointment of an administrator will be swift, and possibly accomplished by the end of the week. How long it remains there will depend on how quickly a credible buyer can come forward and what funds are available in accounts which have been frozen for the last few months.

The process of finding a buyer will begin right away, and the administrator is obliged to speak with the Supporters’ Trust, who have been shaping themselves for such an event for the last few months.

Among the other possible buyers, the involvement of Michael James on the board of the Football Ventures Consortium, plus their familiarity with Wanderers’ finances makes them a very strong contender. The group came close to buying Bolton a couple of months ago but baulked at the rising number of ‘hidden’ bills they discovered whilst conducting due diligence.

The front man for their bid was Cheshire businessman Parminder Basran but with his involvement now in doubt, the remaining members – Sharon Brittan and Jeff Thomas – are thought to be in charge.

They are by no means alone, either, but any bidder looking to buy Bolton Wanderers needs to know that even in administration the exercise will not come cheaply.

It is estimated that £25million proof of funds will be needed to pass EFL inspection and cover losses which are currently around £7m.

On top of that, all creditors must be satisfied, even if that comes down to the minimum 25 pence in the pound.

That will come as bad news to Bolton Council, who are owed more than £1million in business rates and who could now see three-quarters of that debt wiped out.

Other local businesses will also suffer, from travel companies and caterers to kit suppliers and maintenance firms.

On the football side, Wanderers will start next season with minus 12 points for going into administration and could now face further punishment from the EFL for forcing the cancellation of last month’s home game against Brentford with a player strike.

That means promotion from League One next year becomes more difficult, as will the task of rebuilding a squad whose confidence has been decimated by the financial catastrophe which has occurred on Anderson’s watch.

It is not all bad news, however, and the biggest advantage of administration is that there is still a club to support.

Paying players and staff will also be one of the first ports of call, a process which should be more straightforward and reliable than it had become under the current regime.

An administrator – which is almost certain to be Paul Appleton of top North London insolvency firm David Rubin and Partners – would be calling the shots, and the simple act of having a new name over the door may be blessed relief to some, particularly inside the University of Bolton Stadium.

There are plenty of challenges now facing Wanderers over the summer and into the new season, particularly as they bid to regain the trust of their fanbase and the businesses who may have been affected by the administration process.

Rudimentary football tasks like selling season tickets, renewing contracts, buying players and organising pre-season have been put on hold as the madness unfolded and the possibility of going out of business completely was contemplated.

In the end, Bolton Wanderers have dodged a bullet.

It is by no means the perfect solution but after a tumultuous few months the opportunity to rebuild feels like a positive step in the right direction.