WANDERERS chief executive Neil Hart believes the hefty transfer fee paid for striker Aaron Collins on deadline day was a “risk worth taking” in pursuit of promotion.

Bolton turned heads last week when they succeeded in landing the current League One player of the year for a reported fee of £750,000 from Bristol Rovers.

It was the most money paid by the club for any player since Jay Spearing in August 2013 and a statement-making deal which turned heads around the division.

Hart explained that the decision to push for the deal came as a result of background work from the data and analysis department, and a meeting between the coaching staff and the Football Ventures board midway through the winter window.

He said: “We met and discussed the matter at length, and our opinion was very much ‘let’s have a go, let’s do this.’ “Let’s reduce the risk of us finishing lower than second and being very clear on where we want to go. We want to be in the Championship and that has required a little bit of investment at the back end of the window to get us there.

“Hopefully, we can get over the line and achieve what we want to achieve at this club.”

Collins made an immediate impact, creating an equalising goal with virtually his first touch after coming on against Barnsley.

The biggest signing ever made by a League One club was a reported £3.4m paid out by Sunderland to Wigan Athletic for Will Grigg in February 2019. According to Transfermrkt.com, Bolton’s most recent capture ranks 26th in the all-time list.

The outlay was a big call but Hart insists the board backed Evatt and Markham’s judgement that the Welsh striker would be the right person to push the team towards the top two – and a higher level of football that Bolton have traditionally belonged.

“It is always a big decision, and it is one we take collectively,” he said. “We sat there, Ian, Chris, Sharon and I, discussed the pros and cons, and felt it was a risk worth taking.

“We managed to agree a number with Bristol Rovers that we felt was manageable, acceptable to us, and we did it.

“I say this all the time – but this is a massive football club. Outside the big four in the North West this is the biggest club, football-wise in my opinion. I am sorry to any other club in the North West of England, including (Burnley) my former club, but this is a massive in terms of commercial opportunities, fans, the hospitality sector.

“We were really pleased and excited because we feel there is real depth now with Victor, Dion, Jon, Cameron and Dan. With Aaron in there now that competition is even more important.

“There is always pressure in football but we are calm, myself, Sharon, Ian, we all believe in ourselves and where we are taking the club. And as a board we’re absolutely pleased with what we did in the window, so we’ll see how it goes from there.”

Wanderers hit the 3,000 mark for season tickets on Tuesday and have been pleased with the uptake since prices were revealed last week.

Though there has been a price rise, the club hope promotion will make their price points among the lowest in the Championship.

Hart has been encouraged by the feedback he has received so far.

“Fans can see we’re investing in the football club on the pitch, we are trying to move it forward,” he said.

“We have a huge cost base. Football is not cheap to invest in, the first team squad and everything that goes with it.

“We started this process back in the autumn, held consultations with the supporters groups, the Supporters’ Trust, the dialogue was very honest and their guidance is very much appreciated.

“We came up with a price point and, yes, there is an increase on season ticket prices generally, but with the entry level adult ticket you are still paying roughly £10.80 a game and the Under-12s tickets are fabulous value at £45, which is just under £2 a game.

“We wanted to deliver value but I think knowing what we are trying to build, supporters understand why we have had to put our prices up.

“I think the uptake so far just shows that people believe in this football club and the direction it is going in. We have 16,500 season ticket holders this season – an incredible number – and all I’d say to them is ‘stick with us!’”