Davies set to buy Bolton after £14m investment

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The Independent Online

Ed Davies, a fan who has already invested £14m in the club, hopes to take over Bolton Wanderers. The Isle of Man-based businessman will become the owner of the Premiership club this month if a share deal goes through at the club's Annual General Meeting.

The plan has caused controversy among the club's ordinary shareholders, but Davies' commitment to the club in the past four years shows he is the mean reason the club is in the Premiership. Figures released in the club's accounts show that Bolton have lost about £15m in three years, but that loans from Davies have kept them afloat.

Davies has also subsidised moves for Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Mario Jardel and now, rather than wait for his money back, he aims to take over the club.

Davies moved into tax exile 20 years ago but is still a regular visitor to The Reebok, but more importantly he has ploughed in personal money when banks and other backers shied away. Even so, Bolton are about £38m in debt after making a loss of £5m last year on a turnover of £37m. The share deal would see them revert to being a private company rather than part of a bigger plc.

The club's chairman, Phil Gartside, said: "Ed is the only reason we are in the Premier League. He has given us a huge amount of money. We could have taken the option of going into administration, but thanks to him we have avoided that."

Bolton are due to make a £2.8m loan repayment to the Co-op Bank next month, and may struggle to find the money to pay it without Davies' further investment. Their manager, Sam Allardyce, yesterday won the manager of the month award for November and Okocha, who may move on when his contract expires in summer, was named player of the month.

The Nigerian captain, who is due to go away on international duty, said: "I am still a Bolton player and have a contract until the end of the season. Hopefully I will extend my contract. Without any doubt I am happy at Bolton. I have settled in quite well and that should be my first priority. But you never know what is going to happen in football and my door is always open for any other club."

Allardyce has yet to offer Okocha a new contract and adds he would resist any offers as the cash would only be used to service their debt. The arrival of Davies may change all that.

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