From the archive - Wolves' financial peril 30 years on

"I fear the worst and am extremely pessimistic about the future of the club."

From the archive - Wolves' financial peril 30 years on

These were the sobering words of Councillor John Bird, almost 30 years to the day, with Wolverhampton Wanderers facing the very real prospect of ceasing to exist.

You could scarcely dream up a sharper contrast with the Wolves of 2016, writes Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers.

Speculation persists that a prospective owner worth billions and billions of actual pounds is about to make Wolves the second richest club in the country.

But even in relative pauper Steve Morgan's hands the club is on a very sure financial footing.

Whatever happens, for Wolves fans it's always worth recalling the depths their beloved club fell to as a reminder, if they needed one, not to take their current status for granted.

Those depths included debts of £2.4m, a threat of being expelled from the league and the genuine possibility of extinction.

In July 1986 the situation was coming to a head.

The receivers had just been called in, and made a last-ditch plea to the Football League to bend their rules and save the club.

Receiver Adrian Stanway wanted the league to exempt Wolves from a new rule that dictated debts must be cleared before clubs could restart under new owners.

That was proving the main obstacle to efforts to sell the club.

Mahmud and Mohammad Bhatti, who had run Wolves into ruin, were nowhere to be seen.

Stanway said: "Right from the beginning I have been unable to deal with the Bhatti brothers, who just won't respond to my requests to meet them.

"This means that certain important information is being denied to me, such as proof of the debts they say they are owed by the club."

The debt of £2.4m was made up of £800,000 split three ways - to creditors, to Lloyds Bank and, allegedly, to the Bhattis.

While current Wolves boss Kenny Jackett is hamstrung by the ongoing ownership situation in that multi-million pound transfers are on hold, his 1986 equivalent Sammy Chapman had problems of a far more serious variety to deal with.

Wolves' coffers were so empty that a pre-season "tour" was announced to Southport to play a friendly Northern Premier League club, ahead of their first ever season in the Fourth Division of English football.

Chapman said: "Times are hard, so we'll have to make do with the trip to the seaside instead of a tour!"

The Bhattis then broke their silence, via a solicitor, and delivered the bombshell that they were apparently owed £4m by the club, not £800,000.

Their claim was taken with a pinch of salt by many.

"The Bhatti brothers are misunderstood," solicitor Michael Cooksey insisted.

He added they were propping up "gigantic debts" and and were "fed up being the butt of everything".

Councillor Peter Bilson, still a serving councillor today, countered: "I think this just demonstrates their attitude.

"They are jeopardising efforts to save the club.

"Nobody has been given a chance to validate any of these claims – let them show proof."

Five consortia were interested in buying Wolves and supporters rallied round to do all they could to save their club.

At a crisis meeting Supporters Club chairman Albert Bates was given a standing ovation as he outlined plans to get the Football League to charge Bhattis with bringing the game into disrepute.

A 3,000-strong petition was handed to the Football League begging for leniency, but they wouldn't budge and gave Wolves four weeks to prove they could fulfil their fixtures for the following season.

Councillor Bird didn't attempt to sugar-coat the situation.

"I fear the worst and am extremely pessimistic about the future of the club," he said.

"Nothing positive seems to be happening."

Lengthy discussions, bartering and negotiations continued for weeks. Eventually a deal was secured and the utterly calamitous Bhattis brothers era was at an end.

Wolverhampton Council, Gallagher Estates and Asda combined to save the club, with the council buying Molineux, Gallagher Estates and Asda agreeing to pay off debts subject to the supermarket chain building a store next to the ground.

A more tumultuous few weeks you could not imagine.

And Wolves supporters will never forget it.

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