LONDON: Bolton Wanderers, one of England’s great old clubs and among the Football League’s founder members in 1888, have been saved from bankruptcy and expulsion after finding a new buyer just in time to avoid the fate of historic neighbours Bury.

The plight of third division Bolton, four-times FA Cup winners, had developed ever relegation from the Premier League in 2012. Bolton’s most inspirational figure was legendary England centre-forward Nat Lofthouse but that was back in the 1940s and 1950s and the club have veered up and down the division ever since.

Bolton admitted to severe financial difficulties in 2015 when they were £172m in debt. They had invested unwisely in transfers and players’ wages. Four times the club have staved off bankruptcy proceedings over unpaid tax bills. Matches were cancelled at the end of last season when the players refused to play without being paid.

In May Bolton went into administration, the last stage before bankruptcy. Subsequent efforts to find a new owner to buy out property developer Ken Anderson have succeeded just in time after the English Football League gave the club a 14-day deadline to negotiate a rescue package.

Bury, 135 years old and twice FA Cup winners, were expelled from the same third division on Tuesday after efforts to find a new owner by local businessman, former directors and the town’s member of parliament all failed.

Trouble began when the property empire of former owner Steve Day was declared insolvent last December. They finished runners-up in the fourth division in May and were promoted. However paying off the club’s debts proved beyond new owner Steve Dale because the club’s Gigg Lane ground had already been mortgaged.

The MP, James Frith, said Bury had been “the victim of a joint enterprise crime” by “an inadequate football administrator and a toxic and ignorant ownership.”

Bury were founded in 1885 and entered the Football League in 1894. They won the FA Cup in 1900 and again in 1903 by 6-0 over Derby County. This was a record winning margin, equalled only by Manchester City against beat Watford last season.