AFTER yet another false-start on the takeover it now seems entirely appropriate that the EFL are threatening to erase this non-event from the record books.

Patience ran out on the terraces a long time ago but now that Debbie Jevans and Co have called into question the “constantly contradicting information” which has emanated from the UniBol over the last few months, we may finally get a conclusion, however grim.

That Bolton are playing fixtures at all is down entirely to the promises made in the build-up to the Wycombe game on August 3, when once again the deal was described as “imminent”.

Three weeks later and the club’s youngsters are still being unfairly thrust into a level of football which – right now – is beyond them.

The EFL want progress on the takeover by Tuesday or they will set in motion a 14-day ‘Notice of Withdrawal’ in line with the recent situation at Bury. The horrific truth, however, is that there may not be enough money in the pot to take it that far.

Wages are due at the end of the month for 150 employees and the only alternative to a sale for administrators would be liquidation, a scenario that doesn’t bear thinking about.

From Thursday into Friday the Champagne corks were again ready to pop. Senior staff around the stadium, including interim boss Jimmy Phillips, had been primed that an announcement would be made prior to kick-off against Ipswich and Sharon Brittan, the figurehead of the Football Ventures consortium, was scheduled to be in the directors’ box.

On Friday night it was claimed the deal had been held up by unavailability of a senior partner in Ken Anderson’s legal team. But by the following morning the picture became clearer – and a major dispute between the former owner and the Eddie Davies Trust suddenly left things looking very vulnerable once again.

It will undoubtedly stick in the craw of Wanderers’ fans that the former owner Anderson still has such influence on the club’s fortunes. But in truth, nobody in this sad picture emerges blameless.

The complexities extend far beyond money. Indeed, nobody appears to be walking away from the deal currently on the table from Football Ventures with any great profit – albeit the administrators and solicitors have been well paid for their time.

It has become increasingly clear that the main issues revolve around liability and whether anyone leaves themselves open to legal challenges in the future. The level of mistrust involved at every single level of negotiation simply cannot be underestimated.

The main losers in this situation are the club’s supporters, who continue to stay impressively supportive of the young team despite the obvious class gap.

Wanderers have not scored a goal since April – and that, ironically came via an Ipswich player – and have now shipped 15 goals in their last three games in league and cup.

Just 4,694 of the 5,454 crowd were home fans. The attendance by far the lowest league gate at the new stadium and the smallest since 1992 when Bruce Rioch was still assembling his White Hot team at Burnden Park.

It is entirely understandable that the appeal of paying £20 to watch the youth team is starting to fade, and one must question exactly what a match like this does to the integrity of League One?

Jimmy Philips was tasked with assembling a side still badly missing injured centre-half Liam Edwards, full-back Josh Earl, winger Dennis Politic and striker Connor Hall.

Once again there was no doubting the effort, nor the commitment of the three senior players trying to guide their younger team-mates through an impossible situation. But it is hard to argue with the words of Accrington’s chairman, Andy Holt, when he referred to Ipswich’s task as a “bye”.

The line-up contained four 17-year-olds and only one player – Luke Murphy – who was born when John McGinlay and Mark Patterson scored in front of 4,136 fans at Burnden in October 1992, the last time a league gate was this low.

But for the belligerent Remi Matthews in goal and some pretty sloppy finishing Ipswich would have had a healthier lead than 1-0 going into half time.

Their goal came from a soft James Norwood penalty awarded for handball against Harry Brockbank by referee Kevin Johnson, making full use of the new rulebook.

The Somerset ref played the role of pantomime villain perfectly, if not quite as well as Barry Knight once did. His inconsistency in the first 45 minutes raised as much noise from the home supporters as anything else on the day.

Phillips called for his players to be braver on the ball in the second half and a few, most notably winger Callum King-Harmes, impressed when they got the opportunity.

The Whites’ defensive vulnerabilities were exposed against the forward-thinking midfield of Alan Judge, Gwion Edwards, Cole Skuse and the excellent 20-year-old, Flynn Downes.

Kayden Jackson and Norwood wasted plenty but always knew another chance was just around the corner.

Edwards made it two, following up on a good save from Matthews, before Jackson grabbed a brace inside four minutes.

When Norwood fired home the fifth with 18 minutes to go you wondered what other records were about to tumble? Though the scoreboard operator chose to take pity and not log the last couple of goals, the league table will not be as merciful. Nor, one expects, will the EFL on Tuesday.

If Anderson and the Fildraw Trust fail to reach a compromise and the club are unable to meet the league’s demands, some big decisions must be made, starting with the trip to Gillingham next week.

Beyond that, the structure of the Football Ventures takeover may have met with league approval but it has proved to be continually problematic. If there are other credible options out there, perhaps they should be explored before it is too late?