Bolton players to boycott rest of season over unpaid wages; Brentford match called off
Bolton Wanderers' match against Brentford on Saturday has been called off after players decided to boycott their remaining Championship fixtures over unpaid wages at the second-tier English club, although the English Football League (EFL) has instructed the club to rearrange the match "at the earliest opportunity" and complete its fixture list for the season.
The squad went on strike this month and refused to report for training until players, coaches and the club's non-football staff were paid March's wages.
Bolton, 23rd in the Championship and already relegated, have just two games remaining on the schedule. However, both the club and the EFL confirmed on Friday that Saturday's match against Brentford will not be played.
"Bolton Wanderers Football Club regrettably confirms that Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture against Brentford has been called off," Bolton said in a statement. "The club would like to apologise for the inconvenience this will cause. A further update will be released in due course."
The EFL added further details in its statement, saying: "Following the failure of Bolton Wanderers to provide formal confirmation of its ability to meet its obligation to fulfil its Championship fixture against Brentford FC on Saturday [27 April], the game will not go ahead as planned.
"Earlier on Friday, the playing staff at the Club issued a collective statement confirming that they had decided not to fulfil the remaining fixtures of the season unless they received monies owed to them.
"As a result of these disappointing developments, the League has been forced to suspend Saturday's fixture and under EFL Regulations, the Club is now deemed to be guilty of misconduct and will be referred to an Independent Disciplinary Commission."
In a further statement released on Saturday, the EFL added: "Following the decision to suspend the fixture between Bolton Wanderers and Brentford late on Friday evening, the EFL Board has determined that Bolton Wanderers must complete their two outstanding matches in the Sky Bet Championship.
"The Club has been instructed to now make the appropriate arrangements for the rearrangement of Saturday's game at the earliest opportunity.
"In issuing this directive, the Board is aware that a number of the Clubs' Professional Players may not make themselves available but is satisfied that a team can be selected from the players they have registered and available to them."
The players stated their case to quit the season earlier on Friday, characterizing the situation as a strain on the players' families and having "no resolution in sight."
"The long-running financial crisis at our club has been well documented. As has the fact that we, the playing staff have yet to receive our March salaries," a players' statement read as quoted by BBC.
"We have endeavoured to continue our training and playing commitments during this extremely difficult time, with seemingly no resolution in sight.
"This situation is creating mounting mental, emotional and financial burdens for people through no fault of their own. These are unprecedented circumstances and are affecting every aspect of our lives, placing great strain on ourselves and our families.
"With deep regret we have decided not to fulfil our remaining fixtures unless we are paid. We understand that this will disappoint our fans and for this we sincerely apologise."
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), which gave Bolton a loan to cover players' salaries in December, supported the action.
"The players have shown great patience and loyalty towards the club all season, but today, they have reached a point where action is necessary," the PFA said in a statement.
"We will continue to support and represent the players and work towards a longer-term solution in the best interests of the players and Bolton Wanderers Football Club."
Information from Reuters was used in this report.