23 August 2019

Could Bolton Wanderers plight get any worse?

The plight of Bolton Wanderers is a story of financial mismanagement, intransigence, and downright stubbornness. In a previous post, I highlighted the plight of how clubs like Bolton and Bury have sunk to the depths of despair. The battle for the Bolton’s ownership has been dragged through the courts, with both sides saying they’ve met all the obligations placed on them. Meanwhile the club which was a member of the Premier League as recently as 2012, now languishes at the bottom on League One. The impasse means they haven't been able to sign any players, staff have gone unpaid, and games have been postponed. It’s a familiar story in English football these days, and any fan has to feel sympathy to their fellow fans.

Being a founder member of the football league seems to have some benefits though. The club postponed their Tuesday night game on the grounds of “player welfare”. You see they’ve only been able to field a handful of contracted players so far this season, and as a result have one of the youngest first team squads in the league. The club announced on social media late on Monday that they wouldn’t be travelling to play Doncaster Rovers. Their official statement said,
With so many senior players injured or unavailable, the squad has performed heroically and deserves so much credit. It is obvious that to call on them for another match without an adequate break would be detrimental to both their welfare and development which cannot be allowed.”
The fact that both Doncaster and the Football Association only found out about their decision from Bolton’s social media feed, did little to help the situation. No actual approach was made to either party to inform them of the decision. No doubt there will be a sharp response from the Football League once they’ve met on how to respond, and Bolton’s action is a clear breach of the Leagues’ rules.

But why the need to postpone? Yes it is a young squad, but it isn’t the youngest as this image shows. Also it is not as if travelling from Bolton to Tranmere and Doncaster, the two fixtures in question, is that far. Wimbledon by comparison have to travel to Ipswich on the Tuesday, and then up to Sunderland on the Saturday. With an even younger squad, should they be allowed to postpone a game on the grounds of “player welfare”?


Of course not. Perhaps it is a little unfair to compare Bolton’s plight with other teams, but the way they are communicating their troubles isn’t helping them. They can expect further sanctions, perhaps even more point deductions. As they started the league on -12 points, and have only managed to get one point so far, this would be tantamount to relegation to League Two.

Bolton Wanderers story is a sad one. It needs sorting out, and quickly, or else a sad story will become a disaster for the fans. There’s already one potential disaster with nearby Bury. Fans of any colour don’t need another.

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