Bolton have been given 14 days to conclude a sale to a consortium fronted by former Wanderers striker Dean Holdsworth, the Sky Bet Championship club have announced.
Wanderers were once again in the High Court on Monday for an adjourned winding-up petition brought against them by HM Revenue and Customs over unpaid tax, and a registrar granted them another extension to complete a sale to Holdsworth’s Sports Shield group.
A club statement read: “Bolton Wanderers can announce that the club has today been given an adjournment of 14 days by the High Court in order to conclude a deal with the Sports Shield Consortium in taking ownership of the club.”
Bolton have been in the mire since owner Eddie Davies withdrew his long-term financial backing and their issues starting spiralling further in November when advisor Trevor Birch was brought in to facilitate a sale.
In December, HMRC hit them with a winding-up petition over an unpaid tax bill of £2.2million and – after being granted an initial six-week extension in the High Court in January – Bolton representatives including Birch were back in London to try and stave off attempts to liquidate them.
The judge adjourned the case again until March 7, by which point it is hoped Holdsworth’s takeover, which is understood to be valued at £7.5million up front, would be sealed.
Holdsworth, who played for Bolton between 1997 and 2003, told The Bolton News: “It is a great day and I’m absolutely honoured to be a part of this club again.
“More importantly it lets the people who have been at this club through thick and thin look forward to the future. I can’t put into words what a tough process this has been.
“We shouldn’t have been talking about saving a football club but to do it makes this a very special thing for us.”
The Sports Shield takeover, which will need to be ratified by the Football League, is thought to involve Holdsworth and accountant Bruce Gordon, and they are willing to stump up an initial £7.5million before providing a further £12.5million over the next five years.
Despite Sports Shield being on the brink of that takeover, HMRC had pushed ahead to have the 139-year-old club liquidated on Monday and are likely to adopt a similar stance if Wanderers do not pay off their debt in the next 14 days.
However, Birch believes that this latest stay of execution will provide the club and their new owners with time to get their house in order.
“Whilst this continues to be a challenging time for everyone associated with the club, we are confident that this adjournment will give us the necessary time to conclude a transfer of ownership of the club, subject to approval from the Football League,” he said.