Ken’s deals put the Trotters on the spot
WELL, it didn’t take Ken Anderson long to topple from his high horse.
Branded a “rogue owner” by Forest Green chairman Dale Vince following the collapse of a transfer for Rovers’ striker Christian Doidge, Anderson primly announced that he “would not lower” himself to a response.
Yet 24 hours later, there he was, launching into a bizarre 1,000-word rant on the club website and calling Vince “one of the strangest people in football”.
It’s all good pantomime stuff, but the fun and games should not detract from the fact an innocent player has been shafted.
According to Vince, the loan deal that took Doidge to the Macron in August contained a legally-binding agreement to make the move permanent in January.
Anderson, meanwhile, says a registration embargo - the latest in an avalanche of serious financial issues to strike the club during his ownership means that is now impossible.
Yet if the sanction is a fact beyond dispute, the ethics and behaviour of Anderson, both in this and other deals, are not.
Embargoes do not appear out of the blue. They result from months, often years, of financial losses and can be forecast far in advance.
Already this season, Bolton have failed to pay their players’ monthly salaries on time, failed to pay outstanding promotion bonuses to their coaching staff and in September - just a fortnight after Doidge arrived - required a £5m loan from former owner Eddie Davies to stave off administration. Even to an outsider without access to company accounts, that does not sound like a club who could afford to shell out £1m in January. Are we really supposed to believe that Anderson was 100 per cent confident that the deal for Doidge would happen? Yet that is clearly what the player was led to believe. With such conviction, in fact, that he bought a house in Lancashire.
Equally convinced was Remi Matthews, another player signed on a loan-to-permanent agreement when he joined the Trotters from Norwich in August. The goalkeeper’s partner gave up a full-time job to move north but is now back in Norfolk after Bolton pulled the plug.
Even if Anderson could not predict the specific sanction, money was clearly tight enough to cast doubt over both transfers.
To have allowed such upheaval with nary a word of caution to either player was irresponsible, if not downright cruel.
In the short-term, at least, Bolton have played a blinder. Doidge scored once in 17 games, whilst Matthews played just four matches, the last on October 6.
Both were paid by their parent clubs for the privilege, meaning the Trotters effectively bagged a free trial and then ducked out of potentially bad signings.
But now, thanks to Vince, the word is out. No sooner had the Rovers chairman launched his broadside than Norwich returned to the fray, revealing that Bolton owe a six-figure sum in unpaid wages towards the salary of loanee Yannick Wildschut.
Nobody is suggesting that Anderson has done anything illegal, but there is more than a whiff of sharp practice hovering over the Macron. In the long-term, the treatment of Doidge, Matthews and Norwich should ensure that a promise made by Bolton is treated with the same cynicism the club have shown everyone else.