Grim times for Bolton Wanderers. The worst period in the club’s history bar the Burnden Disaster.
With owner Eddie Davies unwilling or unable to provide further finance, the gap between expenditure and income is running at around £1million a month. Even though Davies has written off the money owed to his company, there’s still the matter of a £5million loan at high interest that can’t be settled, players unpaid and the Inland Revenue lurking in the background.
There is little discernible progress in arranging a take over that might save the day. The stated number of interested parties seems to change every day, and while former players Dean Holdsworth and Stelios have been mentioned, other names are hard to find. It seems a long time ago, that Sam Allardyce’s side travelled to Anfield on a New Year’s Day sitting third in the Premier League – for that is where the decline began.
We’ve been here before of course. In 2003 with relegation avoided and stars like Jay Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff still on the books, insolvency loomed until Davies bought in. The early eighties saw Nat Lofthouse front up the still running Lifeline scheme to provide much needed cash and then part of the Burnden Embankment was given over to a supermarket, which looked silly, but needs must.
Single words or phrases have been used much of late to sum up the Wanderers. “Beleaguered”, “struggling “debt ridden”, “cash strapped”, “bottom of the league”, and just occasionally, “once proud.”
McGinlay & Co turning over Liverpool and Arsenal on their own turf in the FA Cup. Promotion to the top flight in the best play off final ever. Four top eight finishes under Allardyce. Two European campaigns in three years. Beating Red Star Belgrade away, the only British side to have done that, and holding the mighty Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Once proud? Like hell. We’re still proud. A little club from Lancashire that’s spent 70 years in the top league, won the World’s best knock out competition four times and had the magnificent player and man that was our Nat.
Life isn’t easy right now. Bolton, Lancs was in difficulty well before the credit crunch, any economic recovery hasn’t touched these parts and the town’s largest employer is about to shed more than 500 jobs. And it’s almost Christmas, with family needs to cater for. So if you can’t do what’s suggested in the following paragraphs no one is judging you, at least no one grown up.
But if you can get to the Macron Stadium for Saturday’s game against Cardiff City, do so, and shout yourself hoarse. Why? For one thing the extra cash may mean those down the pecking order – junior players and those unseen people without whom a football club can’t function, get paid for that bit longer.
Then there’s the small matter of sticking two fingers up at everyone else, for make no mistake, there are some in the football world who revel at the current situation. But most of all – and this applies whether you’re a hard core traveller to every away game, an occasional visitor or somewhere in between:
It’s your club.
Fill the Macron. Come On You White Men.
– Richard McCormick