WANDERERS fans may want to mark 5.50pm on August 28 in their diary next year, for that was the exact time their club was saved from liquidation.

Paul Appleton, the man who oversaw the club’s administration since mid-May, ranks the club’s sale as the most complicated he has ever experienced.

Providing a debrief to The Bolton News, he has backed the Football Ventures consortium to restore some stability and sensibility back into a club which has teetered on the brink.

“I can assure you, there were at least three moments where we thought it was done, and something went missing,” he said. “Equally, there were moments when I genuinely didn’t know if it would get done.

“It’s by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

“The only thing I wanted was to get the sale or otherwise the fans, the staff, the whole community would have lost their football club on my watch.

“I’m an Arsenal fan, I have had a season ticket for 50 years. I get it.

“I would have never forgiven myself if it didn’t get over the line.”

Appleton released a statement on Monday which put a sobering slant on the takeover saga which had stretched on for more than 100 days.

After a disagreement between Ken Anderson and the Eddie Davies Trust had virtually collapsed the deal last weekend, it was spelled out in no uncertain terms that liquidation proceedings could begin on Wednesday without compromise being found.

While the hotel had other interest, with their administrators Quantuma able to offer themselves back-up in case Football Ventures’ deal fell short, Appleton felt he had no other option.

“It is a miracle, really, that Football Ventures lasted this long and didn’t walk away,” Appleton admitted. “There was no plan B for the club. And the reason for that was all we had the entire time was tyre-kickers.

“The reality is that about £150,000 was due to PAYE, £300,000 in players and staff wages – and we’re talking about 150 jobs. There was incredible pressure.

“On Saturday we got a bit of progress, things went quiet Sunday but by Monday things had started to move along. We were up to 4am Tuesday morning trying to get it over the line.

“By 3pm on Wednesday another issue arrived with a different party. By 4.45pm it was with our lawyers but there were still emails going back and forth.

“It really was the time to pee or get off the pot.”

Though Appleton maintains he has not yet been paid a penny for the work he has done, and will now negotiate a fee with Football Ventures, there has been a considerable amount of criticism levelled at him for the predicted figures and hourly rates included in his eight-week report.

The £976,113 fee – and £357-an-hour – estimation prompted some heavy-hitting headlines, although there is evidence to suggest costs from both sets of administrators have been capped and reduced during the course of negotiations.

“My report was a snapshot of the time we’d spent and the costs involved. In truth, if we’d totted up every minute we’d worked on this, those costs would be doubled,” Appleton added.

Another aspect of the administration which has been criticised is the use of consultants such as Keith Cousins, the former Rushden and Diamonds owner, and Paul Aldridge, the former Sheffield Wednesday chief executive.

It has been confirmed to The Bolton News that Aldridge’s fees have been included as a part of the club administration expenses but those of Cousins – who unlike Aldridge has seldom been seen on site – were estimated in the eight-week report at nearly half a million pounds.

“Keith has been invaluable,” said Appleton, explaining his involvement. “We needed someone on the football side who had experience, who was able to deal with players and with Phil Parkinson.

“We were doing everything, which included getting a squad together, so Keith’s involvement was absolutely necessary.

“Paul has also been a massive help running the club on a day-to-day basis.

“We couldn’t just drop someone in there on May 14 and tell them to start liaising with SAG, sorting the concert, the rugby – it would have taken them weeks to get up to speed.”

Appleton says his side of the deal was effectively completed on July 2 but with the Football Ventures’ model dependent on the hotel too, all eyes shifted to his opposite number, Andy Hosking.

A deal for both entities was ready to go on August 8 until, at 5pm, the news dropped that Laurence Bassini – the former Watford owner – had managed to secure a court injunction against Ken Anderson’s company, Inner Circle Investment.

It emerged in court a week later that the exact terms of the order were miscommunicated and did not affect Burnden Leisure Limited. But nevertheless it caused Hosking and Quantuma to apply to court to secure their legal footing before proceeding with a sale.

“I still think how Mr Bassini got ex parte and the order is nothing short of unbelievable. It certainly got in the way,” Appleton added.

The resignation of first team boss Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin came just days after Wanderers cancelled a League One game against Doncaster Rovers, citing welfare concerns for the under-18s players who had been pushed into senior football.

The lack of resources left Parkinson and the first team exposed for the opening four games of the season – and though the youngsters battled for a memorable point against Coventry City, Appleton took the heavy defeats to Ipswich and Tranmere to heart.

He said: “I spoke to Phil a lot and I completely understand why he took the decision he did. He took a lot of stuff on his shoulders and I wish him the very best of luck in the future. It is a shame we couldn’t have got it done to at least give him a chance.

“It was an incredibly difficult situation. I look at last Saturday’s game and every goal which went in was like a dagger to the heart.

“We felt we had to play the game because we simply didn’t want any more sanctions – whether that’s points or finances.

“But the most important thing is that there is a club here. I think Bolton will be my second team from now on.”