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Ken Anderson: I wanted to get Eddie back on board at Bolton Wanderers

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karlypants

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Ken Anderson has broken his silence on the loan supplied by late owner Eddie Davies, which ended the threat of administration at Wanderers last month.

The current Bolton owner and chairman has confirmed cash – known to total £5million - was personally borrowed from Davies, then loaned on to the club to repay a debt owed to Essex-based finance firm BluMarble.

It has also been established the loan to Anderson was agreed on September 7, four days before Davies passed away in Portugal, and is due to be repaid at the end of the current season.

Administration looked a real possibility when a club statement from the Bolton owner on September 10 claimed an offer to repay BluMarble had been turned down.

An administrator, known to be Andy Hosking of insolvency firm Quantuma, had been sent to the North West to begin the process of recovering the debt from 10am.

However, a settlement figure – understood to be around £4.4m - was reached at the 11th hour, which is understood to have included a small injection of funds from local businessman Michael James.

Anderson claims his brinkmanship saved Wanderers around £3.5m over the course of the initial BluMarble loan, and enabled them to renegotiate savings on loans from other debenture holders, including Mr James.

But he has declined to discuss the interest rate fixed to his own loan to the club, or that of Davies.

Speaking to The Bolton News, Anderson provided a timeline of events to help supporters better understand what happened.

“Ed did not want the publicity when we agreed the loan but we did so on September 7,” he said. “I could have paid BluMarble at that point but both Ed and myself felt that because we had got the money in place it would be best to try and get the best deal we could do.

“We wanted to get a commercial loan rate as opposed to an extortionate one, which had been signed in December 2015 before I stepped foot in the club.”

Anderson was critical of the original £5m loan, taken out by Dean Holdsworth’s Sports Shield company as a short-term measure to facilitate the takeover and stave-off a winding-up order from HMRC. And it proved central to the break-up of his business partnership with the former Bolton striker as repeated efforts to refinance failed.

The terms of the BluMarble loan were brought down significantly when Anderson acquired Dean Holdsworth’s shares as Sports Shield BWFC was placed into liquidation in August 2017.

But a further saving was sought, and when the finance company informed of their intention to place the club into administration to recover their money, then overdue at the start of September, a very public game of poker began in which Davies’s loan provided Wanderers’ chips.

Speaking on Monday afternoon, Anderson claimed he knew he would avoid administration. If so, the statement he posted on the club’s official website late in the evening of September 10, read by thousands of Bolton supporters, did not portray such confidence.

The chairman says he spoke with Davies – who had been on holiday with his wife, Sue, in Portugal - that night, claiming the conversation had been convivial, and that his predecessor was in full knowledge of his plan to drive BluMarble’s price down.

“Ed knew I wanted to try and renegotiate and get it for a lot less but they (BluMarble) didn’t want to do it,” he said.

“They wielded the big stick, put in the winding-up order, and so it became a matter of who blinked first from there on in.

“I asked if they were willing to fund the ongoing losses each month, plus the administrator, which would have come to £3-4million.

“The club would also have faced a two-year transfer embargo and a points deduction right away, which I am very sure would have devalued the club in the eyes of any potential buyer who was lingering around.

“They (BluMarble)have investors too and they would have had to justify to them why they had turned down my offer.

“They said they didn’t care, so I just told them ‘good luck’ and get on with it.”

By mid-morning a deal had been struck, although it took 24 hours to be confirmed. During that time, the sad news also broke that Davies had passed away in his sleep.

Details of Davies’s loan are freely available to the public at Companies House, including the fact it is secured against Anderson’s own shares in Burnden Leisure Limited and all Wanderers assets. But it is not known what interest will be charged.

Asked if Davies would have known his loan would become public knowledge, Anderson countered: “I don’t think he thought anyone would search for it.”

Similar mystery surrounds Anderson’s next move, which was to loan on Davies’s money to Wanderers, secured against club assets.

The Bolton owner has declined to comment on whether the cash has been loaned on to the club at a higher interest rate, or indeed how much of it was used to repay BluMarble, insisting the details must remain private because of a non-disclosure agreement.

Anderson claims accepting Davies’s offer of a personal loan, as opposed to dealing directly with the club was not his idea. Two other offers of finance, claims the Bolton chairman, were also on the table but Davies’s obvious affinity to the club made him the ideal candidate.

“I had always wanted to get Ed back involved with Bolton Wanderers,” he said. “I thought I was getting to that stage.”

Davies wrote off around £175m in loans when he sold the club to Anderson and Holdsworth in 2016 but left in £15m, which was repayable depending on the club’s league position in the Championship or promotion to the Premier League.

His latest loan, supplied via Moonshift Investments Limited, is well protected but not repayable on demand. Anderson plans to refinance again if an extension is not granted by trustees the end of the season – but feels there may be some scope to do so, based on Davies’s communications.

“It is fairly straightforward,” he said. “Rather than dealing directly with Ed, I will be speaking with his trustees.

“The agreements in place are the same and we will just finance and repay the loan, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference

“I have always had a good relationship with Ed and his family. Obviously this is a delicate time.

“But we do have letters and emails of intent from Ed, so hopefully they will lead somewhere for us when we do talk.”

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