SHARON Brittan believes money is unlikely to tempt manager Ian Evatt away from Bolton Wanderers.

Currently the longest serving boss in League One, and sixth across all four divisions, Evatt is coming up to his fourth anniversary in charge of the Whites.

Including his time at Barrow, he has thus far managed to improve league position in each of his six seasons in the dugout but has recently come under fire for Bolton’s failure to secure automatic promotion from League One, and their consequent defeat to Oxford United in the play-off final at Wembley.

Though the Wanderers board have confirmed that Evatt will be backed this summer to improve again next season, the number of high-profile jobs in the Championship and League One has seen him regularly mentioned as a potential target elsewhere, most notably at newly relegated Birmingham City.

A list of the longest serving managers in the EFL and Premier League A list of the longest serving managers in the EFL and Premier League (Image: NQNW)

Ms Brittan – who previously stated that Evatt has rejected numerous job offers which had offered “three times his salary” – believes he has once again been coveted this summer in what has been a busy few weeks in the managerial market.

She told The Bolton News: “Football people do churn, they do move around, and I would never want anyone to want to stay at the club who wasn’t bought into it and didn’t want to be here. I’d also never want to stand in the way of anyone’s career. We all do jobs and I’d never expect someone to join Bolton and stay with me forever.

“But when I find really good people they do want to stay. And interestingly it came up in conversation the other day, someone had said Ian Evatt was on their list, but they had been told ‘don’t bother, he’s unobtainable.’

“I took that as a real compliment because most people in football are obtainable if you pay the right money.

“I think we have loyalty in this business and from what I have seen over the last five years there isn’t a lot of that in football, nor is there a lot of trust, and I think we have created that at this club.”

Next season’s League One line-up includes a host of new clubs who can match, if not surpass Bolton’s spending power.

The wealth of Birmingham’s ownership group is well documented, Huddersfield Town are just five years outside a two-year stay in the Premier League, Wrexham’s Hollywood connections should give them a competitive budget, whilst Rotherham United are course and distance specialists.

It is expected that Wigan, Charlton, Barnsley, Peterborough and Lincoln will be challenging at the top end of the table too, whilst Stockport County and Mansfield Town also carry with them healthy momentum from League Two.

Sharon Brittan says Wanderers will be going for promotion next season (Image: Camerasport)

Ms Brittan has criticised the business model at the top end of the EFL and the effect that uneven financial distribution is having on the Championship but to escape League One she accepts the club’s playing budget must increase to stay competitive.

She is confident that Evatt and his sporting director Chris Markham will identify the players needed to improve the squad but she admits the extent to which the budget will be raised will be determined by the men doing the recruiting.

“League One will be difficult but I honestly think it has always been difficult,” she said. “I can sit here and reel off so many big clubs who have dropped down into this division and taken a long time to get back up again. It isn’t easy to get out.

“I still believe that what we have here is a group of people who have been, and will continue to be, successful.

“What is happening elsewhere, because of the money coming into football, it is becoming a consumer-led business and not a fan-led business, people see owning a club as a platform to promote themselves.

“I don’t do that. I don’t do social media. I am here to promote Bolton Wanderers Football Club and the fans, that is my only agenda, end of.

“But here we face a challenge. And I do think we need to layer into the intelligence of Ian, Chris and their personnel. I do see there will be a financial increase and I think it is important that the fans understand that’s our thought process.

“I am allowing, as I always do, for Ian and Chris to come to the board and tell us what they would like.

“We have never restricted them in any way, and they don’t make demands in any way.”

Oxford manager Des Buckingham celebrates the win against Bolton Wanderers with Ian Evatt looking onOxford manager Des Buckingham celebrates the win against Bolton Wanderers with Ian Evatt looking on (Image: PA)

On the face of it, Wanderers had a decision to make on their manager this summer, having come up short in the play-offs for a second year running. The immediate response from the fanbase also reflected a club hurt by the result and another near miss.

Whereas a dozen other clubs chose to cut ties with their manager this summer and start afresh, Ms Brittan explained why she felt stability was the best option for Bolton as they go back in for a fourth consecutive season at League One level.

She said: “Ian is now the longest standing manager in League One and Chris has been with me for three-and-a-half years. Neil (Hart) has been with us for three years. And what I see from the outside in the rest of the football world is people churning again and again.

“If you have the wrong sort of people in the business then of course you have to move them out. But if you churned after five defeats, or not winning at Wembley, or if you are not making progression, then I think that is the wrong thing to do. It destabilises everything and you have to start all over again.

“You might get the odd season where the club goes up, then down. I don’t really want that, I want continuous progression, and that’s why I wanted to go to the Championship last season. Now I am absolutely determined to go to the Championship next season.”

Wanderers made no secret of their top two intentions last season but the feeling as they inch towards pre-season is that this year’s approach will be less bombastic.

The club will now look to strike a balance between sensible spending and making sure that the squad can push for a top two spot.

“Promotion has to be the aim, doesn’t it? It was last season, and the season before,” said Ms Brittan. “It would still be in my sensible, pragmatic way. We are not going to just throw all that out of the window because it isn’t how I work.

“But I’m a winner too. I hate even finishing second. I want us to push on just as much as anyone.

“Someone said to me recently that they had never known two men in football who care as much about the purse strings as Ian and Chris do.

“But we have to make the resources available to them to make sure that they have what they need to do what they are doing.”

Paris Maghoma walks off injured on a nightmare day for Wanderers at WembleyParis Maghoma walks off injured on a nightmare day for Wanderers at Wembley (Image: PA)