WANDERERS will be pursuing a place in the Championship next season in the hope something can be done about the division’s “skewed” economy by the time they get there.

Sharon Brittan has vowed to keep banging the drum for fairer financial distribution from the Premier League and for a fresh outlook on parachute payments to relegated clubs, which she feels has diminished the entertainment value which can be found in the second tier.

A new funding deal, which is reported to be worth £900m over six years, is currently trapped in limbo and could remain there depending on the progress of Manchester City’s legal wranglings with the Premier League and the forthcoming introduction of an independent regulator at government level.

Ms Brittan was applauded for a passionate speech in the Commons in May which outlined some of the financial challenges her club has met in the last five years and castigated the Premier League for breaking off talks with the EFL.

The Bolton News: Sharon Brittan looks on during a game at Peterborough United this seasonSharon Brittan looks on during a game at Peterborough United this season (Image: Camerasport)

One of the headlines generated by the Select Committee discussion was the Bolton chairman’s frank admission that she would have to approach her investors for circa £20m per season if the club was to challenge for promotion at a higher level – a business decision with which she did not feel comfortable.

At the time, Wanderers were 90 minutes away from making that choice. Defeat in the play-off final against Oxford United means Ian Evatt and his side have it all to do again between August and next May, during which time Ms Brittan hopes football can get its house in better order.

Speaking to The Bolton News, she underlined the problems which face any club coming up from League One level.

“When I spoke in the House of Commons I was coming from the perspective of looking at the financial distribution of the pyramid, and the parachute payments,” she said.

“If you look at how that has gone over the last four or five years it is absolutely ridiculous. The Premier League is not acting responsibly.

“We are one pyramid serving 65 million people in this country. Even if you don’t love football yourself then one of your family will almost certainly love the game, so my view is that it is a way to access the entire population in the UK to do good.

“The financial distribution has not evolved in-line with the TV revenues. We have the best league in the world, and the revenues are absolutely huge, so when – not if – we get promoted then I want a level playing field.

“If you look over the last five out of six years, two of the three clubs who came down went straight back up again. Relatively speaking the revenues are still small, so in my view in order to compete for that one spot you are looking at a minimum of £20million.

“I respect money, I respect my investors’ money, I respect what money can do to help people. So, the lens I am looking at it through is that £20-30m could make you competitive for one season to compete for one place.

“What I wanted to highlight was that we need to get those financial distributions right, look at the parachute payments, and then the whole Championship becomes much more of a level playing field, and much more exciting.”

The Bolton News: EFL chairman Rick Parry has been pushing for a new financial package from the Premier LeagueEFL chairman Rick Parry has been pushing for a new financial package from the Premier League (Image: PA)

Though she is campaigning for a ‘fairer’ system of funding, Ms Brittan says her actions should not be misinterpreted as lacking ambition.

Even at League One level and with one of the division’s highest turnovers, Wanderers remain obligated to their owners to pump money in to keep the club afloat.

Operating losses were more than £5m for the year ending June 2023, and with more investment in the playing squad expected this summer that number is expected to rise in the future.

As baffling as the Championship economy seems, Ms Brittan insists Wanderers would never seek to make up the numbers if they got promotion.

“If you choose to invest £20m then fine,” he said. “And I wouldn’t choose to run this club again in the Championship if we couldn’t be competitive.

“We have the original five investors, including myself, and as everyone knows we have Nick’s brother, Ben, and his amazing colleagues, I think there are 29 families now. They have been incredibly supportive, they do not get involved in the day-to-day, and we have a very strong investor base.

“My point was that the way the Championship is run at the moment, with the parachute payments, the unfair distribution of money from the Premier League, would I recommend to my investors to invest £20-30m for one place? It’s skewed.

“Nobody wants to get to the Premier League more than me. It would be everything we have dreamed about, all of us, and more. But let’s make it fair, that’s all I want to see.

“You could so easily distribute £10-20m more to the clubs in the Championship, reduce the parachute payments, and everything would change.

“It would be fair for all the clubs – big and small.

The Bolton News: Wanderers' last game in the Championship was against Martin O'Neill's Nottingham ForestWanderers' last game in the Championship was against Martin O'Neill's Nottingham Forest (Image: Camerasport)

“I speak to owners in League One and they say ‘I wouldn’t want to get to the Championship, Sharon, because there is no point, we couldn’t compete.’ “You do all that work getting out of League One and then you basically go into a chasm where you can’t get anywhere. And that gap is getting bigger and bigger, in fact, it has started to make the whole thing a little bit dull. It’s almost a dead cert.”

Wanderers will be up against some significant financial muscle this season and a look around League One shows how the ownership landscape has changed.

Of the 24 clubs, just nine are exclusively English owned. Indeed, a large chunk of Bolton’s investment over the last three years has come from Swiss-based BMLL Limited, comprised of a collection of families who work for the Trafigura Group.

Ms Brittan believes Wanderers have a unique blend and says she is committed to preserving it whilst also trying to push for success.

“I do look around and feel a little sad because the game has changed.

“It is suddenly a game for brands. I love what we have here because I look at it as a great old-fashioned football club with old fashioned values, we understand the game, we work together, we actually care.

“We share the good times and the bad times. I don’t do social media but I do want to say that I have had nothing but support from these fans – not one negative has come to me in person, email, texts, WhatsApp.

“I communicate with fans in all sorts of ways and I am here as long as they want me here, and so long as the fans feel I am doing the right job for this football club.

“If I honestly thought at any stage that they thought I wasn’t doing the right job, then I’d consider my own position.

“I don’t have a brand. I’m here to do the right thing for this football club and to take it back to where we’d all like it to be.”

The Bolton News: The last set of away fans to see Wanderers play a Championship game in May 2019 at Nottingham ForestThe last set of away fans to see Wanderers play a Championship game in May 2019 at Nottingham Forest (Image: Camerasport)