Bolton Wanderers: English Football League to appeal against 'lenient' punishment

Bolton Wanderers players
Bolton Wanderers players celebrated moving into positive points after beating MK Dons on Saturday

The English Football League will appeal against the "lenient" suspended points deduction given to Bolton Wanderers over unfulfilled fixtures.

Bolton had a five-point deduction suspended for 18 months after failing to fulfil fixtures against Brentford last season and Doncaster this term.

The EFL said it is "disappointed by the conclusions reached by the independent disciplinary commission".

Bolton were fined a total of £70,000, with half also suspended for 18 months.

"Given the potential for postponements to have a significant impact on competition integrity and, following receipt of advice overnight on the reasons provided, the League will appeal the outcome in the strongest possible sense," added an EFL statement.

The commission, appointed by the EFL to rule on disciplinary matters independently from the organisation, met last Thursday to discuss the case.

"We are naturally very disappointed by this outcome as we had hoped a line had been drawn and we'd be able to move on," said Bolton chairman Sharon Brittan in a statement.

"We will vehemently defend any appeal."

In their own statement, Doncaster said they were "obviously disappointed" with the sanctions handed to Bolton and that it would be "prudent" to await the outcome of the appeal "before taking further action".

What did Bolton do?

Bolton, who were relegated from the Championship last season amid financial problems, started this season in League One with a 12-point deduction and only moved into positive points on Saturday.

Their players went on strike over unpaid wages as last season came to an end and refused to play their game against Brentford on 27 April.

The fixture was rearranged for 7 May, after the conclusion of the final round of league games, but was cancelled when cash-strapped Bolton were given a prohibition notice on their ground after the club could not guarantee there would be enough safety personnel at the game.

The Trotters called off their fifth game of this season against Doncaster on 20 August at just 28 hours' notice, citing welfare concerns for their players.

Bolton had been fielding a side largely made up of youth players at that time - they had just three senior outfield players in their previous game - and the fixture would have been the third for the club in the space of seven days.

Wanderers were taken over by Football Ventures (Whites) Limited on 28 August but are still bottom of League One on one point, 12 away from safety and four off 23rd-placed Southend United.

Bolton manager Keith Hill told the BBC that no further points deduction meant his side had a chance to stay up in League One - a division which now has three relegation places rather than four after neighbours Bury were expelled after their own financial issues.

"I'm really pleased for the new owners," said Hill, who was appointed three days after Football Ventures (Whites) Limited completed its takeover on 28 August.

"For us to not receive further punishment is testament to their belief. We can certainly stay in the league and we're going to give it our best shot.

"It gives us a clear pathway now knowing what we need to do. The impossible dream is now a reality."

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