“IF you build it, they will come” – or so said the voices in Kevin Costner’s head in the Oscar-nominated, Field of Dreams, released 30 years ago.

In the film, farmer, Costner, builds a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield and people flock from miles around in the final scene to come and watch a game.

In real life things are a little trickier, although it could be argued the same notion applied for Wanderers when they moved out of a spiritual town centre home at Burnden Park 22 years ago to plush new premises built on moss land six miles away in Horwich.

Fuelled by a record-breaking 1996/97 season straight out of a Hollywood scriptwriter’s notebook, fans waved an emotional farewell to the famous old ground and flocked in their thousands to watch glamorous Premier League football.

Served by excellent transport links and surrounded by the Middlebrook shopping complex, the move to a space-aged stadium transformed the club commercially forevermore. The Reebok, as then was, took on its own persona, developed ‘the roar’ and played stage to some of the best players ever to wear a Bolton shirt.

But they also found out that such luxury has accompanying problems. Overheads have played a significant part in Wanderers’ financial demise of recent years and signs of wear and tear on their shiny home is now painfully evident after a few years of neglect.

The problems for Bolton has been that when the top-flight football disappeared, getting folk consistently through the turnstiles in number has never been an easy task.

Despite some woeful years of late, crowd numbers have been fairly hardy.

Last season’s average gate of 14,636 was the lowest of any campaign since the turn of the millennium, yet it is still slightly higher than the club have averaged at this level of football over the course of its history – 13,724.

The average equates to 51 per cent of the stadium’s capacity and last term only Blackburn (46.1), Wigan (48.1) and Hull City (49.1) fared worse.

Anyone who watched regularly in the second half of last season will attest, however, that the number of empty seats spread rapidly from January onwards as even season ticket holders refused to take their place.

The running war with owner, Ken Anderson, got headlines when supporters marched around the stadium with banners demanding change, but it also ate significantly into the mood of the stadium, which at times was downright grim.

The football on show didn’t help. Whether by circumstance or design, Phil Parkinson’s side struggled to entertain, and coupled with poor results it made for a most toxic mix.

Now facing just their 14th season outside the top two divisions, Bolton’s incoming owners have one almighty task on their hands to convince folk to come back into the fold.

The first acid test will be ticket pricing, details of which are expected in the next few days.

The club has hinted at reductions on season tickets, in line with the division, and that they are addressing fans’ concerns over individual matchday pricing – which had fallen way out of line on Anderson’s watch.

Season ticket numbers last season were around the 10,000-mark but given the uncertainty this summer and the way things ended back in May it would be unrealistic to think they will reach that level this time around.

As such, the so-called ‘floating fans’ could provide an answer.

Unwilling or unable to commit to a season ticket, the casual supporter is more likely to be attracted by one-off offers and a winning team. Wanderers have tried plenty of the former in the last couple of years, with little success it must be said, largely because performances and results have been below par.

Bolton have spent 12 years in the third tier, only one of which was at the new stadium.

Their average crowd at this level is 7,731, although it is boosted by two spikes of promotion under Phil Parkinson in 2016/17 (14,934 average) and Jimmy Armfield in 1972/73 (13,928).

The last time Wanderers dropped into League One, under similarly depressing financial circumstances, was in 2016. Parkinson’s appointment at the time struck exactly the right chord, his calm and collected character the perfect antidote to the blood-and-thunder of the previous campaign under Neil Lennon.

Though there were grumbles about the style of football at times, the fact the club were consistently fighting at the top of the division ensured that by the end of the campaign the attendances were approaching the 20,000-mark.

That obviously pricked the attention of Anderson, who often cited bumper attendances in the run-in to the promotion season as an example of why Championship numbers should be higher.

Fans flocking to watch a winning team is not specific to Bolton, of course, but it does cast some doubt on the theory that Parkinson’s style of football was a primary factor in lower crowds in the last two seasons, rather than a peripheral one.

New owners are yet to tell Parkinson and his backroom staff whether they will be in charge next season, although there have been strong suggestions this week that he will be given the nod.

That has prompted mixed reaction among supporters, some of whom want to see the proverbial broom taken to rid any traces of last season’s disappointment, others who feel some form of continuity might prove useful.

Senior executives and staff have been working through the summer to price next season’s tickets competitively and have them ready for new ownership to sign off on. And the word from the UniBol is that they do have some exciting plans.

But what price is a good price? And does dropping them really work to boost numbers?

The answer is yes: But only if you have someone willing to put their hand in their pocket to foot the bill.

Huddersfield Town dropped their season ticket prices across the board to great acclaim as they earned promotion from the Championship a couple of years ago, thanks largely to Dean Hoyle’s generosity.

The same can be said of Bradford City’s sweeping gesture to reduce prices in League One at the same time, resulting in big crowds at Valley Parade, albeit ones that did not stop the side suffering a surprising relegation last season.

Without a major benefactor, Wanderers will have to make a sensible decision on how they price their tickets, mindful that on their doorstep there are teams playing at a higher level with affordable ticket prices.

Though tempting to compare Premier League clubs, matchday income represents such a small slice of the overall pie for Manchester City, United et al, that they can afford to subsidise them.

For Wanderers, and clubs at League One level, getting people into the ground is the difference between swimming and sinking.

John McGinlay, speaking on Michael Wain’s podcast, summed up the quandary facing the new owners.

“It became personal between the Anderson family and the supporters, who just wouldn’t give them any more of their money,” he said. “They put the brakes on and said they are not going again until he’s gone.

“But the problem then is they get used to not coming back, doing other things. Their families get used to them being around on a Saturday.

“I think the new owners are going to have to create something special to get people back. Whether that’s a reduced price for season tickets, or whatever, but there is a lot of work to be done for people to fall in love with the football club again.

“We have got to price ourselves accordingly. We’re in League One now, stop having these visions of grandeur that we’re this big club. We’re a community club, or at least we need to be. Drop the ticket prices, make them more accessible.”

McGinlay is in no doubt that the relationship between the football club and the town is in need of repair, and that the onus is on new ownership to make the right moves.

“We’re going to rebuild the football club together and we have got to get behind it again,” he said. “If you are out there going ‘should I go next season, or should I buy a season ticket? The answer is ‘yes’.

“We need the whole town to get behind the club again so it can be special again in the future.”

He continued: “Once they actually name the new owners, they have to come out and say the right things.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of members of the group. They seem very business-like. It’s what is needed because the club has lived way beyond its means for a long time now.

“They are going to be starting from scratch this year. People might not realise but we’ll probably need to get 20 players in a short space of time.

“There is so much building needed doing within the club.

“If we are honest, the state the club is in at the moment we couldn’t compete in the Championship. The money that’s in there now is probably like the Premier League was six years ago. If we’d have stayed up, we’d be going down.

“The supporters need to be a bit more patient and allow the club to grow again."