A MATE of mine in the business phoned up last week and asked: “Remember when we used to write about corners and throw-ins?”

I certainly can. There was a time covering Bolton Wanderers when a working week was spent entirely focussing on what was happening on the field, rather than off it.

And I know which one causes more sleepless nights.

When Wanderers went close to going out of business in December 2015, I’ll admit I felt totally unprepared for the subject matter I found myself writing about. Winding-up orders, validation orders, transfer embargoes – it really was a foreign language.

But thanks to the help of some people a lot wiser in these ways, some of whom were connected to the club, some not, we got there.

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When the dust settled, I looked back at what I had written, the questions I had put to the former ownership before the major problems took hold and asked myself: Was it really good enough? I admit it was not.

So when new ownership came in, I made a promise that I would raise my own game, be more analytical, make sure the people in charge of the club were answerable for the decisions they made. I believe I owed that to the readership of the newspaper.

I’d still rather be reporting on the football than the finances but, alas, there have been few occasions since Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth walked through the door as co-owners in March 2016 where I have been able to do that exclusively.

Mr Anderson inherited a tough restructuring job at a club which had lived beyond its means thanks to the incredible backing of Eddie Davies. His efforts to sustain Bolton Wanderers have also not gone unnoticed.

But to run a Championship football club competitively is a costly business, and it has become increasingly clear that Mr Anderson does not have the financial wherewithal to do this in the long term.

On a weekly basis, we are given examples of how increased cost-cutting, unpaid bills, bonuses and, most recently, wages, are affecting staff at the football club. This information comes from people who work at the stadium, the hotel, the training ground and out on the pitch. So on December 5 we asked: Should we be concerned about the immediate financial future of the club?

We are yet to get a satisfactory answer.

Shortly after breaking the news that players and coaching staff had not been paid, I did get a text from Mr Anderson congratulating me on my fair and balanced reporting.

As time wore on, however, promises were not kept. At two press conferences, Phil Parkinson maintained Mr Anderson would sort the problem by the time the newspaper hit the streets the next day. On both occasions it did not happen.

Throughout the last couple of weeks I have maintained regular contact with Wanderers’ communications department to ask for comment or guidance on the information in my articles. On each occasion it has been a case of “no comment.”

It has been quite clear from the owner’s recent columns and private communication that he has been looking for a reason to issue a ban. I did not think for one second that the straw that broke the camel’s back would be a tweet involving the Muppets Christmas Carol!

Hand on heart, the GIF which accompanied the news that staff and players were being paid their November salaries was actually an in-joke about Christmas being saved, rather than any direct pop at the ownership. In hindsight, I wish I’d just stuck with the text.

That triviality aside, there are serious issues which have not gone away.

Those affected by financial problems at Wanderers are in a difficult position – be it staff who cannot get invoices paid on time, or who have to dip into their own pocket to pay for supplies, players who cannot get a warm shower at the training ground, or anyone who has to wonder if their pay will be in accounts at the end of the month. That kind of environment does not make for a functioning football club.

Just as I am duty-bound to reflect the views of the newspaper’s readers, as the Bolton Wanderers correspondent I am also obliged to flag up concerns from within. And they are very real.

People involved may not be able to say so in public. But I am 100 per cent sure I have their backing and support.

Others looking in from the outside may feel otherwise, perhaps even that the newspaper has been overly-critical of Mr Anderson during his time at Wanderers, or that the financial problems have been too heavily scrutinised. And that’s OK. Differing opinions are what it is all about.

Bottom line, this newspaper’s fortunes are inextricably linked with those of the town’s football club and have been since the first day someone kicked a ball in anger at Pike’s Lane. When the team does well, so do we.

But we cannot pick and choose what to report. When things are going badly, we need to say it. This team has won once in its last 17 games, so we have to ask why.

Whether I’m in the press box at Wanderers on a Saturday, watching from the stands, or typing away in the office, I’ll be working to provide the best possible coverage of the club I can.

The Bolton (Evening) News has done that since day one at Wanderers. And that won’t change.