Clubs should never suffer because of their owners

By Liam Hatton

Following a week in which Bury announced their return to the football pyramid and Wigan Athletic’s ownership have declared an intention to sell the club amid financial issues, whilst also entering a transfer embargo, it serves as a reminder about the volatile nature of football. 

This of course happened to Bolton Wanderers in the not too distant past - not quite to the scale of Bury, but Wigan’s situation brings back haunting and all too familiar memories. 

Why is this relevant to our current situation? Well, because this week I thought it would be important to touch on how fortunate we are to find ourselves under the current ownership in place.  

It goes without saying, but we were saved by Sharon Brittan and the board behind her. Without them, we could easily have gone the way of Bury or even continued to slide down the leagues.  

More than 15,000 season tickets have been sold - more than Preston, Blackburn, Wigan and Blackpool - a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with Victorian Plumbing is in place, the stadium naming rights with Toughsheet has been described as one of the most lucrative deals outside of the top flight.

To top that off, over £3,500,000 has been raised with the official club bond.  

So, it is fair to say that whilst Bolton are doing the business on the field, it is probably an even more impressive job away from the pitch, with the board truly firing on all cylinders.  

There is a feelgood factor that has been prevalent for some time and after all of the grief us fans endured, it has been no more than we deserve. After all, we scrolled Twitter at one point and awaited the outcomes of high court hearings just to see if we still had a club. 

Not many Bolton fans will have sympathy for Wigan at the moment. Maybe it is the rivalry, maybe it is the fact that a handful of Wigan fans took pictures in front of our ground when relegation was confirmed. 

This will not be a statement many agree with, but does all of that really matter now? I personally have given Wigan stick in the past, but I have a hard time seeing past the fact that I would not want any club to become insolvent and to start over again. 

I want to see Wigan in the league, I want that rivalry to carry on, I want to have the opportunity to travel to their ground and beat them.  

What happened to Bury should not happen to any club. I could not imagine the thought of Bolton simply not existing anymore with an empty stadium and overgrown grass just like Gigg Lane was at one point. 

English football has a lot of good going for it, housing the most competitive leagues in the world, but it still has major issues in place. Fans should not be made to suffer because of their owners, it should never be the case. 

We as Bolton fans have experienced that. We should not take our current owners for granted because as we know, it can very easily be us. 

My fantasy five-a-side

By Rob Hurst

The Bolton News: Jaaskelainen became a popular figure among Wanderers fansJaaskelainen became a popular figure among Wanderers fans (Image: PA)

With the summer transfer window rapidly approaching it seems a good time to reminisce about Bolton’s most astute signings of the past few decades. 

I have set myself a task: to compose a five-a-side team focussing exclusively on players who brought value for money over the last 30 years. 

Jussi Jaaskelainen - Costing just £300,000 from VPS Vaasa, Jussi’s story with the Whites was one of longevity, epitomising the very notion that a little can go a long way. 

A staggering 527 appearances for the club puts his fifth in the all-time appearance list, he made the miraculous look easy. A true great shot-stopper of the Premier League era, he was a shoo-in between the sticks. 

Gudni Bergsson - In 1995, Bruce Rioch managed to talk Spurs into selling the Icelander for just over £60,000 with a few extras thrown in on top. And, for me, that means he nudges out the great Fernando Hierro to claim the defensive spot. 

Gudni’s passion for Bolton and defensive grit gave bang for the buck and helped secure promotion on three occasions. Although slightly before my time, my dad would have my head on a stake if he didn’t feature! 

Ivan Campo - The summer window of 2003 was not without its perils. Sam Allardyce’s notorious gamble on Jardel, starkly contrasting the shrewd acquisition of Real Madrid’s Ivan Campo, following his loan with us, a season prior. Stellar work, as his trademark hair and mesmerising chant which echoed around the Reebok, were worth a million alone.  

The Spaniard dictated games from midfield, pulling the strings with a captivating level of nonchalance most could only dream of. He could score goals too. 

A mutual adoration between club and icon that still holds strong, as Campo was spotted, and serenaded, while supporting the Whites from the stands at Wembley Stadium earlier this year. 

Jay Jay Okocha - Nostalgia remembers the Nigerian for his showmanship. Deft drag-backs, hypnotising stepovers and outlandish flair are what branded Okocha as an entertainer. His sublime corner flag wizardry in our 2-2 draw with Arsenal being one of my earliest football memories. 

There was more to Jay Jay’s repertoire than just fabulous trickery and inspirational finishes. His alert game-reading ability often saw him two steps ahead of those around him. Further, his ability to go direct when needed, whether it was shots from range, breath-taking dead-ball technique, set pieces, or a long throw, enabled him to shine in a system that on paper seemed the chalk to his cheese.  

Kevin Davies - The name I fondly recall shouting as a child, before rifling a football into the net in my garden. I’ll admit in one unfortunate instance, the neighbour’s greenhouse fell victim to an imitation ‘Super-Kev’ thunderbolt. 

Davies was the embodiment of a classic number nine. Potent with his feet, expert hold-up play, laser-like heading accuracy, spatial awareness, all of which made marking the Englishman a centre-half’s worst nightmare.   

His tenacity often saw our adversaries label Davies as a ‘dirty’ type, but it was this unwavering ‘at all costs’ mentality that harassed defenders into errors and helped cement his club legend status.