Laurence Bassini has assured Bolton Wanderers supporters their club will be in good hands if his prospective takeover from Ken Anderson goes through.
The British businessman, whose ill-fated spell in charge at Watford lasted only 13 months, joined host Jim White for a rare interview on Friday.
This week, the 48-year-old was revealed as the man primed to buy current owner Anderson’s shares and save the club from impending liquidation.
Bolton are in serious financial trouble But the news was not welcomed with open arms by Trotters fans, while pundit Simon Jordan suggested his takeover could be catastrophic for the club.
Bassini has TWICE been declared bankrupt and was banned from owning an EFL club for three years in 2013 for alleged financial misconduct.
He has since been cleared to return to football by the EFL, though.
Speaking to Jim White on Friday, Bassini responded to Jordan’s claims and insisted he will fund a big rebuild job with the aim to get Bolton back to the Premier League within three years.
“If it wasn’t my love and affection for football and this club, I wouldn’t be coming back,” Bassini said in an exclusive interview.
“I think Bolton is a great, great club. I looked at it two years ago before Mr Anderson. They’re a great club and they deserve more. I think they have the potential to return to the top.
“I very rarely do interviews, in fact this is one of the first times I’ve ever done an interview because I just don’t do them.
Former Bolton defender ‘admires’ players for striking over unpaid wages
Jordan Pickford reminded of ‘duties and obligations’ after alleged pub brawl
The highest and lowest positions every Premier League club can finish in
Barnes explains how one Grand National left him injured and out for three games
Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund: TV details, kick-off time, team news
How Benfica would look if they kept their best players, including Man United star
Britain’s richest man bids to buy Nice after talk of potential Chelsea takeover
Morelos and red cards, Messi and Ronaldo and other iconic football duos
“But I think the Bolton fans deserve more and need to know and feel safe, and that’s the reason I’m doing this interview.
“Bolton needs a good infrastructure, and if that infrastructure can be put into this club and if the right people are brought in now…
“I don’t know if we’ll survive this season. I’m hoping we do, but if we go down we’ll be putting a large sum of money in to bring them straight back up and then obviously a plan for them to get back into the Premier League.
“My plan is simple – if we go down it will be a three-year plan, if we stay up it’ll be a two-year plan to get them back into the Premier League.
“The money is available, I just need to have two or three things checked out with Mr Anderson and the club and then we’ll go forward, but we are very close in the coming week.”
The interview is a must-listen for Bolton fans, and probably Watford fans too, as he went into detail about his history.
Bassini insisted he was not directly to blame for either time he has been left bankrupt, saying he was victim of fraud which is now being investigated.
Listen to Jim White’s chat with Laurence Bassini IN FULL above, with the full transcript below…
White: Are your credentials are in question here?
Bassini: Yes they are. It’s taken six years, maybe more, to investigate the actual things that have gone on. There were people doing things they shouldn’t have done, hence why there are police investigations and football league investigations going on. I’ll have to let that take its course now.
If it had been true what had gone on, I would have never been allowed back into football. That’s all I can really say on the matter now.
White: Should Bolton fans be comfortable that you are coming back into football?
Bassini: “If it wasn’t my love and affection for football and this club, I wouldn’t be coming back. I think Bolton is a great, great club. I looked at it two years ago. Just before Mr Anderson, there were a number of people looking at that time.
They’re a great club and they just deserve more. I think that club has the potential to return back to the top, it just needs a good infrastructure there. I was at the game on Saturday – I haven’t been very well but I still made the effort to go and wanted them play QPR and I thought it was a great result. I think they have great potential, really I do.
White: You understand where I’m coming from here, Laurence – should Bolton fans welcome you with open arms when you’ve been bankrupted not once, but twice?
Bassini: That is very true, I have bankrupted twice. The first time the person went to prison over it because they ripped me off, and second time now there is an investigation going on because there are circumstances around that.
They [Bolton fans] shouldn’t have to worry. I wasn’t able to do anything because I had too many people helping themselves and doing things they shouldn’t have done with Watford, hence I had to go bankrupt. I didn’t have a choice, because I had been set up very beautifully.
But the truth always comes out. There is no time limit on fraud, so those people who did what they did: be aware that the authorities are going to come and get you. As for going forward, we can only look ahead and make things better.
Sam Allardyce recently told he would consider returning to Bolton LISTEN: Sam Allardyce says he WOULD consider Bolton return if someone with big ambitions buys the club
White: Are you a millionaire, a multi-millionaire?
Bassini: I am, my comeback was from property. I did struggle for the first few years when I left Watford. It was very, very tough, but then I got involved in property. I’m involved with one of the biggest landlords in London and we do a lot of property together. I find a lot of deals, I earn my money and I have my own company – one is developing and buying property and the second one is buy-to-lets. There will be a third company soon which will be for building products which I will be opening sometimes this year.
White: Will you be coming into Bolton with people who have money as well?
Bassini: No I’m not. It will only be myself. I don’t want to be involved with anyone else in football. I don’t want to have anybody hanging over me. I want to make those decisions and make the right decisions. But, I will be coming in with the right footballing people to build the club again.
White: Bolton fans are sceptical. In some areas, Ken Anderson has been described as a rogue owner and a rogue chairman. Are you?
Bassini: I was never a rogue chairman or rogue owner.
I used to go every day down to the training ground with the players at Watford to see what was going on, I wasn’t so interested on the monetary things.
I must say this, I had a phone call from John Eustace who was the Watford captain the other day, I saw him at QPR where he is now caretaker manager, he said I was the best owner they had, the most fun they had.
I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet. Football is very serious business and everyone has an opinion, and it’s not a problem to have that, but I think what people should do in football is people should say it as it is instead of trying to run people down. Football is very egotistic.
I very rarely do interviews, in fact this is one of the first times I’ve ever done an interview because I just don’t do it. But I think the Bolton fans deserve more and need to know and feel safe, and that’s the reason I’m doing this interview.
Bolton chairman Ken Anderson is eager to sell the club White: So they can feel safe with you?
Bassini: I think so.
White: Because Simon Jordan says it might be out of the frying pan and into the fire with you.
Bassini: Simon Jordan says a lot of things. Simon Jordan has his time in football. I’m not going to run down Simon Jordan, if he wants to run around pointing things at people and saying things that aren’t nice, I can’t do anything about that.
The only thing I would say about Simon is that he wanted me to put millions of pounds into Portsmouth and I didn’t want to do it. He kept phoning me day after day, driving me mad about it.
I said to him: ‘I’m not ready to go back into football and you have to accept that’. But he said: ‘I can be the owner, you just put the money in Laurence’. I said: ‘Simon, I don’t want to do that’.
Then he turned and got all funny on me. I can understand that maybe he’s a bit angry, but I’m not going to run him down. His thing is doing interviews and if he wants to run people down, if that makes him feel good about himself, then left him do it. That’s up to him.
White: So Laurence, if you get the club, will people be paid on time? This is what you’re saying: The club would be in good hands, there will be money to spend and you will take the club forward? You’re not conning anyone here are you?
Bassini: No, not at all. Bolton needs a good infrastructure, and if that infrastructure can be put into this club and the right people brought in now…
I don’t know whether we’ll survive this season. If we go down – and I’m hoping we don’t – we’ll be putting a large sum of money in to bring them straight back up and then obviously a plan for them to get back into the Premier League.
My plan is simple – if we go down I think it’s a three-year plan, if we stay up I think it’ll be a two-year plan to get them back into the Premier League. The money is available, I just need to have two or three things checked out with Anderson and the club and then I can go forward, but we are very close in this coming week.