A dispute has erupted between chef-restaurateur Paul Heathcote and Bolton Wanderers Football Club chairman Ken Anderson regarding an overdue payment.
Heathcote & Co has been the official caterer for the Bolton Wanderers since 2013 and employs around 200 staff across the 125-bedroom Bolton Whites hotel and the 28,723-seat Macron stadium.
Anderson acquired Burnden Leisure with former footballer Dean Holdsworth in 2016 when the company, which operates both the football club and the hotel, was on the verge of administration.
The club chairman criticised Heathcote publicly in a blog on the football club's website on 2 August after the chef issued a winding-up petition over the payment. Anderson claimed the company had been withholding payment due to "serious breaches" of contract.
He said they issued notice to terminate their "uncommercial" and "loss-making" contract inherited from the previous regime, but had given the green light for the payment to be processed.
"It is my impression that the club has been a longstanding financial supporter of SCC/Heathcote's rather than the other way around," he said.
However, in a statement to the Bolton News, Heathcote said he is still awaiting the payment, which has now increased to £300,000, adding that he had a duty to protect his team's jobs and pay them on time as well as suppliers.
Describing Anderson's statement as "inaccurate" and "defamatory", Heathcote said: "The club has a high level of investment from Heathcote & Co. We intend to reassure our clients, customers and the team that we intend to see the contract out. To be absolutely clear, the hotel has not served notice to terminate the contract (as Mr Anderson alleges) and there is no legal basis to do so. We have been extremely patient and accommodating at numerous junctures when the club has been in difficulties. The team has performed to an extremely high level against a backdrop of adversity and difficult challenges all well documented…
"The only time such ‘disputes' have occurred are when on a number of occasions the hotel has been unable to pay its debts as and when they fall due. On this particular occasion it started in early July. In spite of this, with a high level of concert and rugby attendance in the pipeline, Heathcote & Co once again attempted to support the club and continued to provide service."
The winding-up petition appears to still be in place.
Bolton Wanderers Football Club and Bolton Whites Hotel has since released a statement which said they have "paid in full all monies owed to SCC/Heathcote's, which amounts to a total of £5,084.50.
"It is to be hoped that SCC/Heathcote's now fully adhere to the terms of the agreement and no further breaches occur, and all parties can work together without any further disruption for our valued clientele."
Anderson also owns French fine-dining restaurant Boulestin in London's Mayfair, which he bought out of administration earlier this year.
Former Michelin-starred chef Heathcote has won three of The Caterer's Catey awards: Newcomer Award in 1992, Restaurateur of the Year - Independent in 1997 and Best Use of Technology in 2009.