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Bolton fixture under threat as unpaid staff consider not working

Bolton have just under 24 hours to assure the local council that safety provisions will be in place for their Championship fixture against Millwall to go ahead.

The English Football League is monitoring the situation after the club met with the council, the emergency services and Greater Manchester Police, who are owed money by Bolton, on Tuesday amid concerns Wanderers may not be able to provide sufficient stewarding for Saturday’s match.

The game at the University of Bolton Stadium could be in doubt after the club failed to pay any staff their February wage. Part-time matchday staff, including safety stewards and turnstile operators, are considering not working on Saturday because of the issue.

However, Bolton Council said in a statement that they were “hopeful a resolution will be found” by early on Wednesday afternoon.

The statement continued: “The club has recently been unable to demonstrate it can meet the legal conditions of the ground’s safety certificate.

“After consultation with all members of the Safety Advisory Group, the council has taken the decision to give the club 24 hours to address all safety concerns, otherwise we will reluctantly issue a prohibition notice.

“We understand some fans may be alarmed by this news, but the council is bound by legal process and we are not prepared to risk public safety by allowing any event to go ahead without proper resources in place.”

Press Association Sport understands cancelling the fixture would be a last resort. Such a move would leave Bolton open to a fine or a possible points deduction by the Football Association, with the club already deep in relegation trouble.

Bolton’s players reported back for training on Tuesday but the club’s off-field issues clearly show no sign of relenting.

Wanderers closed their training ground on Monday because of a lack of food and fuel. However, it is understood most of the first-team squad had the day off while the under-23s team were not due to train because they had a Professional Development League game.

It was business as usual again at Bolton’s training base on Tuesday morning, with Phil Parkinson’s squad back in to begin their preparations for the visit of Millwall.

Bolton, who are 23rd in the Championship and are eight points from safety, have faced several winding-up petitions from HMRC in the past 16 months and are due back in the High Court again on March 20.

Chairman Ken Anderson is attempting to sell the club and recently claimed he was in talks with “several consortiums”.