Millionaire fan Davies buys control of Bolton

Phil Gartside, the Bolton Wanderers chairman, claims the club owes a debt of gratitude to the millionaire Eddie Davies, who has injected a further £2.25m into his hometown team.

That has boosted the Isle of Man-based businessman's shareholding in the parent company, Burnden Leisure plc, from 29.7 per cent to 94.5 per cent, making him effectively the new owner. Shareholders agreed to the proposal at the company's annual general meeting yesterday.

Gartside said: "Without Ed's support we would be watching a very different standard of football. He has increased his shareholding, so he has got control. That's all it is. We still have 6,000 shareholders. He is the majority shareholder.

"That's where he wanted it, in terms of consolidating his support in financial terms and making sure we can control what went on here. We are determined to establish ourselves as one of the premier clubs in England.

"The whole team at the Reebok [Stadium] deserves praise for their combined efforts over the last few years," he added.

Gartside now hopes to talk to the bank about restructuring the finances of the parent company. "You have to remember, at the Reebok we have got hotel, offices, and other commercial activities," he said. "It is not strictly a £38m football debt. The extra support that Ed has given to us means we can talk to the bank at a level where we might have a chance."

Davies had made £14m available to the club since being appointed a non-executive director four years ago. The further increase in funds is a huge boost to the club as there had been fears that if the proposal had been voted down Bolton could have been forced to sell players such as the midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha.

Burnden Leisure's debt at the end of the last financial year stood at around £38m. The injection of cash will help pay off a loan of £1.7m, which is due to the Co-operative Bank next month.

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