Meet the opposition: Bolton are under administration, playing the kids and the boss has just quit
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Ipswich Town take on Bolton Wanderers in lancashire this afternoon. STUART WATSON takes a closer look at a club that’s going through a very turbulent time.
Founding members of the Football League. Four times FA Cup winners in the 1920s and once more in 1985. A Premier League club from 2011 to 2012. A town with a population of 130,000. Average attendances of 15,000.
And now, just like Bury, a grand old club in deep trouble.
On several occasions last season, owner Ken Anderson failed to pay staff and players on time. Eventually there were strikes. The club couldn't even fulfil their final fixture.
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Several winding-up petitions from HMRC over an unpaid £1.2m tax bill have been adjourned in the High Court amidst talk of a takeover being complete. Still nothing has transpired.
In May, the club went into administration. Following on from relegation, the Trotters started life in League One with a 12-point deduction.
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The majority of senior players at the club enacted get out clauses in their contracts this summer.
Pawel Olkowski, Mark Beevers, Sammy Ameobi, Craig Noone, Clayton Donaldson, Ben Amos and David Wheater were among those to walk away.
Jason Lowe and Luke Murphy were the only experienced outfield players left.
The signings of Josh Earl (Preston, loan) and James Weir (free agent) were announced on the day of their opening game.
A clutch of teenagers have been promoted from the youth set-up in order to help the club fulfil their opening fixtures.
In their opening four games, Bolton named 14 different players aged 18 or below in matchday squads.
Have you heard of Sonny Graham, Callum King-Harmes, Ronan Darcy, Eddie Brown, Matthew Alexander, Jordan Boon, Adam Senior, D'Neal Richards, De'Marlio Brown-Sterling, Kwame Osigwe, Dennis Politic, Finlay Hurford-Locket or Regan Riley?
Didn't think so. That's because all of them are in single digits when it comes to senior appearances.
A 2-0 defeat at Wycombe, a team tipped to be fighting relegation, on the opening day.
Then came a battling goalless draw at home to Coventry in front of almost 9,000 fans at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Since then they've shipped 10 goals in two games. A 5-2 loss at Rochdale in the EFL Cup was followed by a 5-0 thrashing at newly-promoted Tranmere last weekend.
Bolton were due to host Doncaster on Tuesday night.
The Lancashire club decided, with just over 28 hours notice, to postpone the fixture due to the strains it would place on their squad.
"Whilst the threat of further sanctions is obvious, nothing can be allowed to impact on the welfare of such a young group," read a short club statement.
The one constant for Bolton throughout this mess had been their experienced manager.
On Thursday, Phil Parkinson, in charge since the summer of 2016, decided enough was enough. He, along with assistant Steve Parkin, quit.
In his final post-match interview, the 51-year-old said: "The combination of people not getting this deal to sell the club over the line and the tangled web which that is involved in, and making us play the game (against Tranmere), has hung all the staff and players out to dry.
"Honestly, it's just unacceptable. This is Bolton Wanderers Football Club, a fantastic club with a great history, and we need a bit of help. If it's not going to be sold, we need to be able to bring some players in.
"No new players in, no sign of the deal getting done, there's signs of people out there wanting to buy the club but still no sign of it going over the line."
Long-serving academy boss Jimmy Phillips - Bolton's equivalent of Bryan Klug - has been put in interim charge of the team.
BRINK OF A TAKEOVER
Laurence Bassini, the former Watford owner was given a three-year ban from being involved in a position of authority with an EFL club back in 2013, agreed a deal to buy the club in April but his purchase fell through.
On August 8, the prospective takeover by Football Ventures was blocked by a court order issued by Bassini.
The sale now appears ready to go through after that order was adjourned in court last week. Administrator Paul Appleton said it was 'on the brink of completion'.
Bolton fans will only believe it when they see it.