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Bolton set for much-needed ownership change after sale agreed

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BOLTON, England (AP) A businessman who was banned from English soccer for three years for financial misconduct has signed a deal to buy struggling second-tier club Bolton.

[ MORE: Bolton given extra time to settle tax debts, avoid liquidation ]

Bolton says Laurence Bassini, the former chairman of Watford, has purchased the club and will settle its long-term debts that are threatening to put one of the founding members of the English Football League, in 1888, out of business.

The change of ownership must be approved by English soccer authorities.

Bolton, which could be relegated to the third tier on Friday, owes $1.6 million to Britain’s tax authority and its players have still not been paid their salaries for March.

[ MORE: Bolton avoid administration, 12-point deduction in 11th hour ]

Bassini was banned from holding a position of authority at an English club for three years in 2013.

Bolton says “significant funds will immediately be made available” once the sale of the club is confirmed, “enabling the payment of the outstanding wages to the players and coaching staff along with a number of the long-term creditors.”

Bolton was most recently in the Premier League in 2012.

Bolton given extra time to settle tax debts, avoid liquidation

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Bolton Wanderers have been given an additional five weeks to settle the club’s unpaid tax debt of $1.6 million and avoid going out of business.

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One of 12 founding members of England’s Football League in 1888, Bolton have been threatened with liquidation six times now in the last 18 months.

Lawyers for the Championship side were in the High Court in London on Wednesday and the case was adjourned until May 8, at which point the expectation is that a sale of the club will be complete and the debt will have been cleared.

Former Watford chairman and prospective buyer Laurence Bassini has shown proof of funds to complete the purchase, Bolton’s lawyers told the court. Bassini was banned from holding a position of authority at an English club for three years in 2013 for alleged financial misconduct.

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Outside the courtroom, Bolton’s players are currently on strike in support of club staff whose wages were not paid on time for the second straight month. Bolton, who were in the Premier League prior to relegation in 2012, currently sit 23rd of 24 teams in the Championship, five points adrift of safety.

EFL Championship: Norwich nearing promotion; Leeds reclaim 2nd

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Norwich City stretched their winning streak to seven games on Saturday and inched three points closer to a return to the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League? (video) ]

With seven games left to play, the Canaries are five points clear of second-place Leeds United and enjoy a seven-point gap between themselves and the dreaded promotion playoffs. Daniel Farke’s side has lost just one of their last 14 league games and look wholly worthy champions-elect of the second division.

Boro, on the other hand, have lost four straight and slipped all the way to eighth in the table after spending much of the season in the top-four, a near lock to qualify for the playoffs.

As for Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa’s side reclaimed second place with a 3-2 comeback victory over 21st-place Millwall. Leeds, who have spent much of the season just behind Norwich, fell to third following a head-to-head loss to Sheffield United last time out. Saturday saw Sheffield United collapse from 2-1 up in the 75th minute, to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of seventh-place Bristol City.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview: Spurs at Anfield; Chelsea visit Cardiff ]

Only Norwich are currently hotter than Aston Villa, who have won five straight and are unbeaten in six. Now fifth in the table, the Villains look like strong candidates to be this year’s “got hot at the right time” team.

After 39 of 46 rounds…

Place Team Points GD
1 Norwich City 81 +30
2 Leeds United 76 +25
3 Sheffield United 74 +29
4 West Bromwich Albion 70 +25
5 Aston Villa 60 +15
6 Derby County 59 +7
7 Bristol City 58 +8
8 Middlesbrough 58 +8
9 Nottingham Forest 57 +9
10 Preston North End 57 +7
11 Sheffield Wednesday 56 -3
12 Hull City 54 0

Redknapp claims innocence for Birmingham’s overspending, deduction

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Harry Redknapp claims that he is not at all responsible for the nine-point recently handed to Birmingham City as punishment for “breaching profitability and sustainability rules” in the EFL Championship.

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Despite managing the club for five months, from April to September 2017 — a period in which the Blues signed nine new players (six for transfer fees, three on free transfers) and saw the overall wage bill continue to rise — Redknapp has washed his hands of the entire situation and believes “I don’t think any of the signings were mine” — quotes from the Guardian:

“There were three lads from Brentford that came in [Jota, Harlee Dean and Maxime Colin]. They were all good players but they weren’t on my shopping list. I’d never even see any of them play, they were brought in by other people above my head.

“We brought in Isaac Vassell for $1.3 million [from Luton] and he will be worth massive money in my opinion. He was an absolute bargain, but I can’t even take credit for that because he was nothing to do with me, to be truthful. I don’t think any of the signings were mine. I was taking [John] Ruddy on a free transfer from Norwich and instead they brought in David Stockdale from Brighton. The director of football [Jeff Vetere] wasn’t brought in by me either.”

Only, with regard to the signing of Spanish midfielder Jota, Redknapp had the following to say hours before his signing was made official, per Guardian columnist Daniel Taylor:

“I’m hoping it will be done. It’s not done yet. I just identify them, then it’s up to other people to get them in.”

[thinking-face emoji slash upside down smiling emoji]

While Redknapp is hugely disingenuous in accepting zero responsibility, those in charge of the various clubs at which he has run up massive debts managed could try something entirely new: tell the man, “No.”

Birmingham City to get nine-point deduction, unexpected relegation battle

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From very comfortably mid-table, to a handful of points away from the relegation zone — that’ll be reality for Birmingham City once the English Football League hands the EFL Championship side a nine-point deduction for “breaching profitability and sustainability rules,” according to a report from the BBC.

[ MORE: Report: Man United stars lined up for exit ]

The Blues, despite losing four straight league games, currently sit 13th in the Championship — seven points off the promotion playoffs, and 14 clear of the drop zone — but will find themselves in 18th with eight games still to play.

The penalty stems from losses in excess of $17 million per year over a three-year period, which is outside the acceptable window under EFL rules. Birmingham will, however, avoid any additional penalties, including transfer embargoes.

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The club recently revealed a loss of £37.5m from July 2017 to June 2018, a direct result of player wages rising from $29 million for the season to just over $50 million after a flurry of transfer activity in the summer of 2017.

Birmingham will be the first club to be punished under the EFL’s profitability and sustainability regulations, put in place at the start of the 2016-17 season