Bolton are on the verge of liquidation after the English Football League gave their administrators 14 days to either sell the League One club or prove they can fund them for the rest of the season.
And as the administrator Paul Appleton has already revealed that there is no money left to fund the club without a takeover by the Football Ventures consortium, the EFL verdict looks terminal.
Optimism had been growing on Tuesday that Bolton would meet the 5pm deadline set by the league to announce that the deal had been approved.
But in a statement released at 11.05pm, the EFL said: “Despite further exchanges with the administrators over the course of the Bank Holiday weekend, and right up until today’s deadline of 5pm, a resolution to ongoing impasse in negotiations regarding a completion of sale at Bolton Wanderers has not yet been found.
“The EFL board has therefore taken the decision to lift the suspension on the notice of withdrawal, which was issued as per the EFL’s insolvency policy when the club entered administration in May 2019.
“As per the league’s articles of association, this will now give the club 14 days (11.59pm on 12 September, 2019) to meet all outstanding requirements of the league’s insolvency policy or its membership in the EFL will be withdrawn.”
— EFL (@EFL) August 27, 2019
Appleton issued a brief statement to say he had “noted” the lifting of the withdrawal notice, which the league suspended when he was appointed earlier this summer to allow him time to sell Bolton, but would continue to try to save the club.
“All parties have been in continuous dialogue throughout the day and are working closely together this evening in order to bring a deal to completion,” he said.
The sticking point is understood to be a dispute between the club’s most recent owner Ken Anderson and their biggest creditor, the family trust set up by Bolton businessman and benefactor Eddie Davies before his death last year.
EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans said: “Despite repeated assurances, we are extremely disappointed that we are still not in a position to reach a successful resolution with the sale of Bolton Wanderers and have therefore taken the decision to lift the suspension on the notice of withdrawal. I again urge all parties to finalise the proposed takeover.
“The reality of this action is that there are now 14 days to secure the club’s long-term future, and I sincerely hope we can find a way through these challenging circumstances for the benefit of all those who have an association with the club.”