Dougie Freedman admits balancing Bolton Wanderers books is getting trickier
AS the Football League prepare themselves for a courtroom battle over Financial Fair Play – Dougie Freedman has expressed his disappointment that the goalposts could yet be moved.
Wanderers are thought to be one of several clubs outside the top flight, including Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers, Wolves and QPR, who are considering taking legal action over the controversial spending regulations agreed in 2012.
Although the Football League has told its told its members that they will “vigorously defend” their position, a recent admission from Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore revealed that the two bodies are now working together to make the rules “more manageable.”
That news has not gone down well at the Reebok, where financial reality has bitten hard in the last 22 months since their relegation from the top flight was confirmed.
Despite posting an eye-watering £50.7million loss in the last financial year, Freedman says Wanderers have tried to scale down their wage bill.
“I’ve been working very hard with Phil Gartside to make sure we don’t overspill in Financial Fair Play,” he told The Bolton News.
“We are making sure that when we sign players that they are of a certain age and financial level – but now it looks as if they are saying ‘these might not be the rules anymore.’ “It’s a very difficult business we’re in anyway but I find it even more difficult when no-one seems to know the rules were are playing under.”
Based upon the most recently issued financial accounts, it is thought more than half of clubs in the Championship could face major fines or transfer embargos next season if the rules continue as proposed.
Freedman, who has found his recruitment efforts constantly hampered by the threat of FFP, emphasised the small margins that he has operated within this season.
Efforts to land players such as Danny Graham, Liam Feeney, Craig Dawson, Peter Ramage and Michael Kightly have fallen down on financial grounds and the Wanderers boss admits it is a burden the whole club has had to shoulder.
“We have been right up to the wire, we really have. I hear the Bolton fans saying ‘let’s make signings’ and that’s a great idea, it really is,” he said. “But I have got to play within the rules.
“We are not that sort of club – let’s not pretend we are – we had a fantastic time for 10 years but now we’re trying to bring the finances in line with what we can actually afford.
“We’re also signing players of the right age so that when they develop they will be good assets.
“When we have got some money in the bank because of those assets, then we can get some ideas on how we are going to take it forward again.
“That’s where we are right now.”
Wanderers have also voiced their concern that the cost of the infrastructure they brought down from an 11-year stay in the Premier League – including the stadium, training ground and Academy – has not been taken into consideration with the FFP rules, which were passed a few months before their relegation to the Championship.
But while he has been operating in austerity measures for most of his time at the Reebok, Freedman hopes that finances at the club will eventually level out.
“It certainly doesn’t help clubs like us who have come down and are trying to get our house in order to go again,” he said.
“But I’m not saying this will be the norm from now to whenever, we’re cutting things on the pitch because of these rules.
“Now they are saying that we might not use these rules, so it’s very disappointing that whoever makes them up has not taken into consideration the football clubs and how they are run.”