WANDERERS will be hit in the pocket for at least £1million after relegation – even without the issues created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire forecasts a seven-figure loss for Wanderers, Southend United and Tranmere Rovers, who will drop into the fourth-tier next season.

Sponsorship and television will make up around half of the drop in revenue but the sharp fall in away attendances will also have a significant impact.

That will be further exacerbated by the fact large gatherings are unlikely to be sanctioned by the government for some time – which will mean reduced home crowds at the start of 2020/21, if any supporters are allowed through the turnstiles at all.

Maguire, whose Price of Football Podcast has been a big hit with fans during lockdown, has kept a keen eye on matters at Bolton since the Ken Anderson era.

He believes Bolton’s owners, Football Ventures, will have to be realistic with their spending for the foreseeable future.

“The TV money is probably worth £500,000 alone," he said. "I had a long chat with (Tranmere chairman) Mark Palios about this too.

"If you look at the clubs in League One, you have Portsmouth, Sunderland, Ipswich and some pretty big teams who will always fill the away end.

"In terms of ticket sales it will be a loss in League Two and the sponsorship deals are obviously linked to the division in which you play as well.

"Put all that together, you’re probably talking £1 million.

"That’s the broad amount for clubs going down from League One to League Two.

"Coronavirus is a crippling blow for lower League clubs too.

"They’re more reliant on turnstile incomes than the higher leagues because they don’t have such a lucrative TV deal."

Salford City’s co-owner Gary Neville has painted an equally stark picture of finances in the lower leagues over the coming months, repeating his call for the Premier League and other bodies to provide some financial assistance.

Like other clubs, Wanderers put some staff on furlough from April onwards. But they will soon have to make decisions on whether redundancies have to be made in the short-term to protect the club.

Neville says some clubs could be at risk of going out of business altogether.

“I do worry that there will be football clubs who come under severe distress in this next few months,” he told the BBC. “And I do believe that there will be clubs who could go under if they haven’t got investment coming from third parties outside of their current ownerships.

“There is a massive economic problem that is about to hit us in the next few months when the job retention scheme ends, and everybody is aware of that, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. The job retention scheme has to end at some point, we have to get back to normal life, but employment will be hit.

“Football isn’t protected. People think it’s a rich industry and it is at the very top but it isn’t in the lower leagues and there will be clubs like Bury that I think will suffer badly.

“I have been calling since day one for the Premier League and other organisations that have got money in football to support lower league football clubs and it hasn’t come yet.”