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Town's game at Bolton in serious doubt as Wanderers denied safety certificate

PUBLISHED: 17:05 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:05 02 April 2019

Bolton Wanderers once again face a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill on Wednesday. Photo: PA

Bolton Wanderers once again face a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill on Wednesday. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town's game at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday is in serious doubt after the Lancashire club were denied a safety certificate for the game.

Bolton face a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill of £1.2m in the High Court tomorrow and the worst case scenario for them is liquidation.

Owner Ken Anderson is, however, still adamant that a takeover is close two weeks on from a stay of execution.

Trotters players and staff have not been paid their March salaries, which were due last Friday, with this not the first time pay has not arrived in time.

As a result, Phil Parkinson’s playing squad are on day two of a 48 hour strike in protest – a move said to be a show of solidarity with the staff members at the lower end of the wage scale.

Matchday staff at The University of Bolton Stadium have also threatened to go on strike at the weekend. And that’s what has put Saturday’s game in doubt.

Ipswich have sold around 1,000 tickets for the scheduled clash between the Championship’s bottom two clubs – all tickets having been priced at just £5.

We understand that playing the game behind closed doors is not an option which the EFL have discussed with Ipswich Town today.

Section 5, 33.1 of the EFL rule book states: “Save with the consent of The League or as a consequence of any disciplinary or regulatory proceedings, no Club may play any League or Cup Match behind closed doors so that the public are excluded from the ground.”

Bolton Wanderers fans protest against chairman and majority stakeholder Ken Anderson. Ipswich Town are due to play at Bolton on Saturday. Picture: PA SPORTBolton Wanderers fans protest against chairman and majority stakeholder Ken Anderson. Ipswich Town are due to play at Bolton on Saturday. Picture: PA SPORT

An EFL statement reads: “The EFL has today been informed that the Safety Advisory Group (SAG), responsible for issuing the general safety certificate at Bolton Wanderers, has placed a prohibition notice on the Club under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975.

“As a result, all supporters will be prevented from entering the University of Bolton Stadium until the Club can demonstrate that the stadium can deliver the matchday operation to the standard required.

MORE: ‘I’m not sure what the players think striking will achieve’ – Bolton chairman criticises own players ahead of Ipswich clash

“Prior to the meeting, called by the SAG, the Club confirmed it would be unable to commit to meet the obligations of its safety certificate until after a scheduled appearance at the High Court tomorrow (3 April).

“SAG members concluded this would be a challenging timeframe to put an adequate plan in place to protect the safety of fans during upcoming home fixtures against Ipswich Town on Saturday 6 April and Middlesbrough on Tuesday 9 April.

“The EFL is currently engaged with the Club in regard to how they intend to meet their fixture obligations.

MORE: Bolton matchday staff threaten strike over unpaid wages

“SAG is a multi-agency panel which includes Bolton Council, Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service and St John Ambulance.”

Bolton Wanderers fans protesting against chairman Ken Anderson. Picture: PA SPORTBolton Wanderers fans protesting against chairman Ken Anderson. Picture: PA SPORT

An EFL Spokesman said: “Whilst disappointed, the EFL understands the rationale for the position taken by the SAG at this time. However, we still hope the fixtures will take place as planned. We will work with the Club and offer them any practical assistance that is available to us in an attempt to find a successful and timely resolution to the issue.”

Bolton Council’s Safety Advisory Group’s statement reads: “We recognise that Bolton Wanderers is at the heart of our community and this is a deeply regrettable situation.

“We have done everything we can over recent weeks to support the club at this difficult time.

“Every effort has been made to give the club enough time to put adequate matchday operation standards in place. Safety and security remain our primary concern and while we recognise that spectators may be disappointed, we are not prepared to put the public at risk.”

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