Fans of Bolton Wanderers started the year 2014 in a state of shock, as the accounts, released somewhat later than usual on the prior New Years Eve, showed a £50 million loss and a total debt of £168 million.
The top bods at the club were hoping that everyone would be too pissed to notice, but that idea didn’t fly as a plethora of articles appeared, all written along the lines of ‘how not to run a football club.’ Chairman Phil Gartside surfaced – eventually, to assure the supporters that everything was fine because the Whites own their own stadium, have a bit of land they can build on and club owner Eddie Davies isn’t dead.
Dave Whelan wasn’t taken in. “The lad who, I was talking to him in Barbados about a fortnight ago. Lad who owns it. He’s being led a dance by…….whoever’s doing it at Bolton. Something’s wrong,” he told Bolton FM. The recording was removed from the radio station’s Soundcloud page, which was a shame as it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. A transcript of the conversation can be read at Finally The Truth About Bolton Wanderers, Well Kind Of
Interestingly, the latest figures haven’t yet been made public, with Burnden Leisure having converted to a private limited company from a PLC
Things on the pitch didn’t look too rosy either. After presiding over the worst Bolton start in 111 years, Dougie Freedman engineered the biggest defeat since 1982 at Reading’s Digestive Stadium in January. The home side had eight shots on target. Seven of them went in.
Improvement was slow to arrive. Freedman’s men didn’t win their first game of the year until Feb 22nd against Watford, and that was only the third home victory of the campaign. Blackburn and Leeds United were dispatched impressively, 4-0 and 5-1 respectively, but then it was back to crippled by caution football, and whilst a mid-table finish was achieved comfortably, the play off places were but a distant dream.
At least the foundations were in place for a promotion push in the 2014-15 season. If only. A 3-0 defeat at Watford on the opening day, was just the beginning. By October, Freedman had belatedly departed by ‘mutual consent’, after a miserable 4-0 reverse at Fulham, who were themselves in relegation trouble.
By this time football agent Tony McGill’s long running dispute regarding the transfer of Gavin McCann in 2007 was over. McGill failed to win the case as he didn’t have a written contract with the midfielder, but the judge poured scorn on almost everyone who testified on behalf of Bolton Wanderers and accepted McGill’s version of events as plausible.
A fuller account of the verdict can be read at: Bolton Wanderers. Can We Have the Truth Now Please.
After seven years and two court cases it’s still not clear why Gartside and Co acted the way they did. One can only hope that in future their behaviour is beyond reproach. While McGill is financially lighter to the tune of £100,000 he is happy at the outcome and feels vindicated. The same can be said for this website despite the threats and false accusations which have come this way from Bolton’s more bone headed followers since coverage of the matter began, just over three years ago.
On October 11th there was national coverage of the case, along with other issues. Broken Bolton: where did it all go wrong for Wanderers? Asked Daniel Taylor in the Guardian
Attention was quickly diverted with the arrival of a new manager the next day. Having a made a humongous balls up of the previous four appointments, Gartside wasn’t trusted to undertake the task alone. He had director Brett Warburton and owner Eddie Davies for company. Which is probably why Neil Lennon got the gig instead of Malky Mackay.
Mackay subsequently joined Wigan. It seems like a good match. The Scot will be leading Latics fans in a chorus of their traditional song, “You’re Just a Town Full of Pakis,” when they visit the Macron Stadium for an FA Cup tie on Saturday. Dave Whelan won’t there though. He’s been banned from being Dave Whelan for six weeks after comments made in the wake of Mackay’s appointment. The Wigan owner isn’t even allowed to mention his leg.
It’s soon to judge Lennon but first impressions are extremely good. The infographic below, nicked from the BBC shows his first eleven games as manager against Freedman’s last eleven.
Results aside, the Northern Irishman has a straightforward way with words, which usually leaves one nodding in agreement. With Freedman you were left you wondering if he’d arrived not via Crystal Palace, but from some planet in a distant galaxy.
But given injuries and the limitations of the squad he inherited, Lennon can only do so much. A decision needs to be made. With an eleven point gap to overcome, making the play offs is a long shot, but if there is a genuine desire to do that, then money needs to spent in the January transfer window.
It’s over to you Uncle Eddie. Get your hand in your pocket. It shouldn’t be a problem. Your mate Phil says so.
- Richard McCormick