April 26, 2019 / 3:17 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer-Bolton game off after players threaten boycott over unpaid wages

(Reuters) - Bolton Wanderers’ Championship match at home to Brentford on Saturday has been called off, the EFL said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Championship - Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers - DW Stadium, Wigan, Britain - March 16, 2019 Bolton Wanderers Callum Connolly applauds fans after the match Action Images/Jason Cairnduff

The announcement followed a statement from the players of the already relegated team confirming that they had decided to boycott the remaining league fixtures over unpaid wages.

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.

“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,” the EFL said in a statement.

“The EFL Board will now consider the matter of determining whether the fixture will be played or not.”

Bolton said in a statement that they “would like to apologise for the inconvenience this will cause”.

The club, who are 23rd in the table, are also scheduled to visit Nottingham Forest on the final day of the season.

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Bolton, a Football League founder member in 1888, won the FA Cup three times in the 1920s and in 1958 but have struggled in recent years after relegation from the Premier League in 2012.

“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.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Ken Ferris; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond

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