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Where has it gone wrong for Bolton Wanderers?

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Uncertain times ahead for the Trotters

Unfortunately, poorly-run football clubs are becoming a common theme in the English game. Now, it’s almost more of a surprise when a club ascends thanks to the work of those behind the scenes and fans are more fortunate than anything else to have an owner that cares for the club.

Too many times in recent years we’ve seen clubs - and prestigious ones at that - take a hefty fall from grace due to poor ownership. Decisions are made that can kill the life and soul of the football club and unfortunately it looks like another one is about to land themselves in some serious trouble.

Last night it was announced that Bolton Wanderers financial difficulties were heading to another level, with them set to go into administration. It's a massive blow for a club that were in the Premier League as recently as 2012 and the consequences could massive - with them on course for a 12 point deduction and a 2 year transfer embargo. We've dissected just exactly what has gone on with the Trotters and looked at some other clubs who've found themselves in similar situations, read below for more...

How have Bolton got in this mess?

Those on the pitch and the ones who come along in their thousands each week to support the team aren’t to blame, with Bolton being another sad case study of a club that has been taken over by people with no real interest in football - only money.

Their financial problems date began after their relegation from the Premier League in 2012 and this recent issue stems from a loan taken out in 2015 with creditor BluMarble Capital LTD. Recent reports say there is a funding gap for the next 12 months of up to £13m and administration is set to come next after BluMarble rejected a last minute offer of £4m plus “substantial interest”. BluMarble looks set to fund the administration until a new buyer is found in the foreseeable future.

There's some seriously worrying times ahead for everyone involved with Bolton - especially the fans

Bolton Chairman Ken Anderson told the club’s website: “I have of course seen this evening's Bolton News article and I am very disappointed that Stuart Wilson and Michael Henson of Blu Marble Capital Ltd have decided to reject my offer to repay the loan they originally made to the club through Sportshield Ltd and place the club in administration.

“The amount received by the club was £4m and l offered to repay this plus substantial interest. Unfortunately, this offer was rejected.“

As they come to understand and appreciate the consequences and repercussions of this action, l feel sure that they will live to regret their actions for what can only have been personal reasons as their actions do not make commercial sense.”

Dark times ahead for a proud club

It is a sad tale and decline of a club who were once amongst one of the most competitive in England. During the glory days under Sam Allardyce they were an established team in the top flight and in his final four years with the club Bolton finished eighth, sixth, eighth and seventh in the top flight.

Fans were treated to stellar signings almost every season. Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro, Youri Djorkaeff and Nicolas Anelka were just some of the biggest stars to come to Bolton. Other fan favourites such as Jussi Jaaskelainen, Kevin Nolan and Kevin Davies were mainstays of the team in their Premier League run.


Few teams enjoyed the trip to Bolton, most notably Arsenal who struggled to adapt to and combat their physical style of play. As recently as November 2007, Bolton were facing German giants Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the UEFA Cup, drawing 2-2 away from home thanks to goals from Ricardo Gardner and Davies. Now, almost 11 years later, they will sit bottom of the Championship on -1 point and potentially with a 2-year transfer embargo.

As such, there is very little room for maneuver within their squad at this moment in time, who are already discontented by wages that are owed to them. Midfielder Karl Henry said he is still waiting on wage packages from the 2017/18 season.

The ones most affected by this decision are the supporters, many of whom have spent their lives following the Trotters up and down the country. They have lived through the Premier League days and the subsequent drop from it and this is just the last chapter in a tale of misery. As one of the founding members of the Football League, Bolton are a club with a proud history, but through all of the previous relegations and struggles, this has to be the lowest point they have reached to date.

Financial difficulties are becoming a common theme

Portsmouth were one of the first high-profile cases and whilst they are now back up on their feet, things could’ve been so different for the south coast club. In little more than five years, they went from a side that was winning the FA Cup and facing a star-studded AC Milan team featuring the likes of Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko and Ronaldinho in the UEFA Cup to a side fighting for their life in the fourth tier of English football.

Inzaghi Portsmouth
Since facing Milan Portsmouth have slipped to the basement of the Football League, one of the biggest demises in modern English football history

They aren’t the only ones to have suffered thanks to ownership. Blackpool dropped to League Two from the Premier League in a similar time period under Karl Oyston, who has now finally left the club. SISU are continuing to plague Coventry City. Roland Duchatelet is a far from popular figure at Charlton Athletic.

Leeds United have been in administration during their prolonged stint in the Football League and had no hope of success under Massimo Cellino’s crazy spell as owner. Aston Villa were fortunate not to receive a winding-up order in the summer after gambling it all on success in the play-off final that was not forthcoming.

Bolton aren't the only current Championship side this is happening to, with Birmingham City also facing a transfer embargo for their financial problems, though administration doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

Birmingham are another club who have lived the high life of the Premier League, winning the League Cup in 2011 against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in the same year. They were relegated in the same season and problems behind the scenes have meant the club are yet to return to the top flight and don’t look like doing so in the near future.

Birmingham Carling Cup
Birmingham City's 2-1 win over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup Final will seem like an eternity ago for Blues supporters