IF coronavirus had remained a ‘just thing we saw on the news’ and not put life as we knew it on standstill, Wanderers’ rebuilding job would already be well underway.

As far back as January it was clear that the club, which had been saved from the jaws of liquidation by Football Ventures, was already undergoing another swift evolution.

The positive vibes created by the takeover and the all-for-one spirit garnered by Keith Hill and Co early in their tenure had gone lukewarm. The arrival of Peter Kenyon on the scene as a board advisor and the installation of a head of football operations, Tobias Phoenix, suddenly gave Wanderers an air of unfamiliarity – and one which to this point has not been fully explained.

There was talk of an increased reliance on analytics in recruitment, and a feeling among the supporters that signings made in January were not of sufficient quality to escape the relegation fight.

By the time lockdown was enforced, most at Wanderers had resigned their fate to League Two. As such, the debate on how this season is settled – or whether it should continue – feels like it has happened above Bolton’s heads.

There has been little need for the club to lobby in one direction, or another, as the outcome will almost certainly be the same.

Next Monday, clubs will be called into a meeting with the EFL to vote on which regulations should be adopted by the league in the event they cannot complete the season. It is hoped – especially at the University of Bolton Stadium – that another vote can be quickly organised, and a definitive answer given, on whether the club has to play again.

If, as expected, clubs vote to end things now, it will surely be a case of ‘all stations go’ in virtually every department.

One of the first jobs to tackle may be at an academy, which has bene left in limbo. Although Wanderers have confirmed they will step down to category three next season, the consultation process was interrupted by lockdown leaving many of the people working at Lostock none the wiser about their future.

David Lee will not have an Under-23s team to manage next season but the former Burnden Park favourite says he would like to retain a position at the club.

Wanderers will want to end the uncertainty as quickly as possible once they know exactly what sort of timeframe they are operating in before the start of next season.

The Bolton News:

Fans are also eager to know what will happen in the dugout, where Hill and his assistant David Flitcroft had been facing awkward questions up to the point the season was put on hold.

Although Hill said back in February that he was still planning for next season with his hometown club there are big question marks over whether his vision for Wanderers marries up with that of the ownership. And certainly, the job he took on last August is somewhat different to the one it became by the New Year.

Whether Hill can be judged purely on results, given the precarious state of the team he inherited, is another matter of opinion. But after a dreadful run of post-Christmas form it is fair to say there was an increasing call for change among the fanbase, which presumably still exists.

That Hill and Flitcroft were mothballed back in April along with the first team and have been unable to discuss their situation makes it all the more difficult to gauge.

It is widely thought their contract runs in line with that of the players, renewed on a yearly basis from June 30, which leaves Wanderers with a big decision to make.

Exactly how much of the first team squad is retained in League Two is another matter to be resolved.

Including new professionals Adam Senior, Callum King-Harmes, Sonny Graham and Matt Alexander, there are 10 players contracted for 2020/21. A total of 14 senior pros will be free agents at the end of June alongside several scholars, including Ronan Darcy.

Pre-pandemic, Football Ventures and Hill had sung from the same hymn sheet on next season and claimed they would be gunning for promotion regardless of which division it was in.

Wanderers remain under a transfer embargo for another 12 months and even if the rest of football does not follow suit in imposing salary caps and squad size limits, they will have to cut their cloth according to the regulations imposed on them.

A natural amount of cost-cutting would have been pursued even before coronavirus, and now with the game facing serious rationalisation outside the Premier League, even harsher savings may be necessary.

A big clear-out was already expected on the playing front but whether it has become an even bigger job post-pandemic, we shall have to wait and see.

The Bolton News:

Whereas players like Remi Matthews, Jason Lowe and Daryl Murphy would previously have been difficult to lure to League Two, the uncertainty of life for a free agent at present may be enough to change opinions.

Wanderers have maintained in recent weeks that efforts are still being made to tie Darcy to a new deal. The academy graduate has been one of few success stories in the last 12 months and it is hard to think of a signing which would be better received. But realistically, the talented midfielder will not be without options.

In the event clubs vote to play out the remainder of the season in League One, the EFL has made some provisions for short-term contract extensions and put stipulations on when clubs can and can’t talk to free agents who made be lining up elsewhere.

While Wanderers would want to avoid the cost of bringing a whole squad out of storage for what is already a doomed mission, they must also be longing for a chance to make a fresh start.

Last year’s pre-season was a pantomime of administration, and the lack of preparation played a significant part in poor results early in the campaign. Football Ventures will have taken notes and want all their key components in place as early as possible.

That may well include the boardroom, where strong rumours persist that there will be a reshuffle in the coming weeks.

Perhaps most importantly, Wanderers will want to figure out exactly how to restore some cashflow over the coming months.

There are no guarantees on when fans will be allowed back into the UniBol, although the more optimistic estimations are October or November. Therefore, Wanderers will have to come up with a way of selling season tickets with a degree of flexibility, knowing ‘normality’ could still be some way away.

The success of all that might just depend on how – and if – they can recapture the Bolton public’s imagination post-lockdown.

Too many fans had already broken the habit of attending home games regularly before they were stopped from doing so. And if Football Ventures are to use their first full summer productively then how they pitch their rebuilding job to the supporters will be hugely important.

If they can rediscover the positivity that accompanied their takeover, and get people talking about the team once again for the right reason, then there is every reason to believe they will get the full support of the town.