Earlier, we wrote about Bolton's hunt for promotion through the Playoffs and how it may not be the end of the world if the Trotters spend another year in the Championship. That said, many fans want to go up and they want to do it at the first time of asking. While there are positives and negatives to both the Premier League and the Championship, this is why Bolton Wanderers must go up as soon as possible.
The Championship is a notoriously difficult division to get out of once you're in it. Because of its unpredictable nature and the fact that the "underdogs" beat the top teams week in and week out, squad strength and quality of talent often do not affect proceedings. We watched a relatively tight Bolton Wanderers team travel to Peterborough United's London Road and get bogged down by a rough, rainy pitch and a bottom-of-the-league Posh side. Despite scoring four goals away, the Trotters left empty-handed.
Over the years, fans have watched traditionally big teams go down to the Championship and not manage to get back up. Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday are the obvious examples in the past and now (not big) Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers are proving just how difficult it really is. If Bolton get the opportunity to fight for promotion, they must take it.
It's no secret that Bolton Wanderers are in debt and are carrying quite a large financial burden. The last publicly available figure stood at £136 million with £125 million of that owed directly to owner Eddie Davies. While it's a good thing that the money is owed to him and not a bank or the government, it's still not anywhere near a good or healthy position to be in.
As Matilda explored in her article, the money that recently relegated teams receive in the Championship isn't necessarily bad but it's not even close to incoming Premier League funds. For this season and next (if Bolton do not go up), the parachute payments from the top flight equal £16 million and then drop to £8 million for the two seasons after that. In the 2011/2012 Premier League season, Bolton received 2.5 times that from TV rights sharing and other league income. The Championship teams receive only £1.8 million per season in TV rights and that number is on a downward trend with league rights dropping 20% between 2010 and 2011.
That extra income would go a long way to securing Bolton's future.
Footballers want to play for the best possible team in the best possible league and, well, Bolton Wanderers in the Championship don't really fall into that category for many of the squad's talents. Mark Davies and Chung-Yong Lee, among others, are under contract but there are other players whose deals expire in the summer, most notably Marcos Alonso (who is rumored to be as good as gone) and Jay Spearing (who will return to Liverpool).
The promise of Premier League football would not only attract an arguably higher caliber of new talent but would be a great tool to persuade current talent to stay. Then there is the money that would afford Bolton the ability to pay more competitive wages and reasonable transfer fees (as opposed to the nearly £0 that the club are spending on transfers now).
Dougie Freedman has shown what he can do with a ragtag squad and minimal budget, what about if he had more resources to work with?
Watching the team
Bolton Wanderers are not as local as many fans would like you to believe. While a huge percentage of the fanbase is located in the immediate area, the club attracts worldwide interest. Over the last month, this website has had visitors from 147 different nations with 69 different nations visiting on a regular basis. 72% of the Lion of Vienna Suite's visitors are from England while an additional 10% are from the United States.
Those figures present a fundamental flaw with Bolton Wanderers being in the Championship and fans trying to simply see their team play. In January, I wrote at length about the inability to see Bolton in action from anywhere but the Reebok and that still rings true today and will remain to be true for the foreseeable future. Bolton do not get TV games. They've had just two this season to Leicester's eight. This doesn't only affect fans abroad though. What about those that can't afford the 300 mile trip to Ispwich? Away games often fall into that realm for Trotters fans.
A return to the Premier League woud allow supporters to watch the Trotters play wherever in the world they are. Every game is televised now and it isn't like a few years ago when trying to watch t'Clasico against Wigan Athletic was an impossible task (stylistically is a totally different discussion though) and the whole season is as available through various subscription services. The Championship doesn't allow that and fans are often relegated to awful radio coverage at best.
After all, fans just want to see their team.
The playoffs are still some ways off, with Bolton having to make up a five point gap in order to scratch into the playoffs. Realistically, the Trotters need the equivalent of six wins from the remaining eight games to stand a chance. They have shown that incredible form is a possibility and while last week's Ipswich Town loss was a blow, it shouldn't be the end of the world.
Bolton's final eight games are not easy by any stretch of the imagination but are also not impossible. The matches against Leicester City and Middlesbrough could prove to be crucial six-pointers but first, Bolton need to beat Charlton Athletic in nine days' time.