A club that started the Football League in 1888 may be expelled from it.
Bolton Wanderers is the club of Nat Lofthouse and Roy Greaves, and more recently Jussi Jääskeläinen, Youri Djorkaeff, Gary Cahill, and Stu Holden, and it may have reached the end of line.
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Winners of four FA Cups but none since 1958 and combatants in a League Cup Final appearance as recently as 2004, Bolton Wanderers has been on a sad and steady decline for the better part of a decade.
And it may cease to be a club by Wednesday.
That’s a loaded statement, but Tuesday could see Bolton Wanderers kicked out of the Football League after failing to complete a sale of the financially troubled club. The league seems as exasperated as the desperate fan base, which saw a manager quit at midweek.
EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans said on Sunday: “What is really disappointing is that on Saturday morning, our understanding was that all the parties involved had signed off and the deal was going to be completed yesterday morning.
“Then something happened, a signature wasn’t provided and therefore it was postponed again. This is incredibly frustrating. It has been going on for months.”
There are, of course, options that can save the team in this testy 48 hours. But to reach this point shows that even if a solution is found, it may be the last opportunity for Bolton to keep itself alive. There are only so many lines in the sand.
Bolton plays Gillingham on Saturday, and is three weeks away from meeting another troubled, historic club in Bury FC.