Bolton Wanderers: Suspended five-point deduction upheld by panel

Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers are bottom of League One, 17 points adrift of safety

The decision to suspend Bolton Wanderers' five-point deduction over unfulfilled fixtures has been upheld by an arbitration panel following a failed appeal by the English Football League.

The deduction, suspended for 18 months, related to games against Brentford last season and Doncaster Rovers this term.

The EFL argued the points suspension and fine was "lenient".

An independent arbitration panel, however, concluded the punishment was "proportionate".

In addition to the points deduction, Bolton were fined a total of £70,000, with half also suspended for 18 months.

The EFL said it was "disappointed with the verdict", but "respects" the outcome.

Bolton Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan said the club are "pleased that this decision brings to an end the uncertainty".

The League One side's failure to fulfil both fixtures happened before Brittan headed a takeover in August.

"The case was one of the major legacy issues we inherited at the club and we welcome the opportunity to be able to move forward," Brittan said in a statement on the club website.

"Our attention can now be completely focused on the pitch as we strive to retain our status in League One."

In a statement, the EFL said it would now work with clubs to "formalise" a scale of sanctions for similar breaches in future and cover issues relating to non-payment of debts and failure to fulfil fixtures.

In their own statement, Doncaster said that having "backed the EFL's appeal" they "will now review the panel's findings".

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 after going into administration.

Four wins and seven draws from 21 games has seen them move into positive points and close the gap on second-from-bottom Southend United to just two points.

All but one of those points have come under manager Keith Hill, who took over after Phil Parkinson left on August 22.

Parkinson had to endure a torrid time in his final months at the helm, with players going 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 matches, 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 match 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, a group headed by Brittan, on 28 August.

News of the suspended penalty being upheld comes as Bolton have moved to strengthen their side, with the loan signing of Manchester United midfielder Ethan Hamilton among three additions made on Monday.

"Despite the restrictions imposed on the club, the management are working around the clock to strengthen the squad to fight for every point available," added Brittan.

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