clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

An Assessment of Eddie Davies' Time at Bolton Wanderers

New, comments

A Shakespearian tragedy

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

After months, maybe even years, of trying to sell the club Eddie Davies finally succeeded on Monday (subject to the football league) and will be handing the club over to Dean Holdsworth and his Sport Shield consortium. Here's an honest assessment of his time at the club.

The Good

Eddie Davies is a local-born lifelong Bolton Wanderers supporter. I don't doubt that he's had the club's best interests somewhere in his heart / consciousness throughout his tenure, however difficult that may have been to believe at times.

He was at the helm during the noughties when we had a team featuring the likes of Gary Speed, Nicolas Anelka and El-Hadji Diouf. His financial backing no doubt supplemented the TV money to facilitate building a squad that gave us such great memories. Not to mention all the eternal legends that came before him and the unforgettable nights in Europe.

At the same time, the Academy was developed - the investment in which has started to bear fruit, with exciting talents such as Rob Holding, Josh Vela and Zach Clough now taking their rightful place in the first team.

I don't know just how influential Davies was in any of the above, but nevertheless, they all occurred at a time when he was at the helm, and he probably feels he deserves some credit for that (more on this later).

And above all else, ED ultimately was the person throwing his own money in to keep the club afloat as it continued to make significant losses chasing the Premier League dream. He deliberately reduced the bank debt to limit hostile external influence on the club and there wasn't a long line of people queuing up to pump their own money in. For this I believe we should be eternally grateful to Eddie. Others would have crumbled and watched the club disappear.

The Bad

Davies can be seen as a proxy for the chairman, as Phil Gartside was always at his mercy, given the money was coming from Davies' pockets. Phil Gartside was often the public face of the club, but only Phil and Eddie really know how that relationship worked. I imagine as a fan owner turning up to watch matches on a semi-regular basis, Eddie's opinion of whoever the incumbent manager was at any given time had a sway on when the axe would eventually fall.

By definition then, surely he would have a say in who would replace the outgoing manager, being the one having to stump up redundancy pay, as well as the new man's wages.

What I'm getting at here is that Eddie is culpable in the succession of poor appointments since Sam departed, and that has seen our league position plummet to the point that we're looking at the very real possibility of League One football next season.

Alongside these poor managerial appointments was an appalling record of player trading, seeing many sizeable transfer fees go on absolute flops / sicknotes, who ran their contract down and left for free. The lack of proper clauses in player contracts has cost us dearly too - another huge error.

And to sum all of this up, Eddie may have played a huge part in the flawed strategy of throwing money at the problem to try to get us back into the Premier League before the parachute payments dried up. In hindsight (which is a wonderful thing, by the way), we probably should have realised what was going on at Championship level when we saw the ridiculous transfer fees being dished around and moved to a self-sustaining model much sooner, before the rug was pulled from under us as it has been in dramatic fashion this season. Which leads nicely into...

The Ugly

I can forgive poor decision making and genuine mistakes that I think the above were. The absolute turmoil we've all had to endure this season? Part of being a football fan I guess. But the fact that the hard working normal people running the club on a day-to-day basis did not know if they were being paid at Christmas was utterly deplorable.

Throughout the past few years, I have defended Davies and the false "debt" number - but for the tap to run dry mid way through an already difficult season, leading to such a relentless high profile saga that has dragged the club's name through the mud is unforgivable. The timing was shocking and may well be the biggest reason we'll be in League One next season.

As for the takeover, I think it's premature to draw conclusions about him based on the ridiculous, egotistical and financially non-sensical demands as the rumours suggested at the weekend. From where I'm standing there's no concrete evidence to support it just yet.

If true then it is incredibly disappointing and will certainly tarnish his reputation in my eyes, although I still wouldn't go as far as wanting to burn him at the stake for wanting to minimise his losses from writing off his investment in the club. Indeed, a lot of the people who are wanting to burn him at the stake now are the same people who wanted a statue of him built outside the ground when Trevor Birch's first public announcement stated the debt would be wiped.

The End

We don't yet know the ins and outs of where the £7.5m is going and how much of Davie's own cash he's actually stood to lose (I suspect a lot of that money is currently held in escrow and will go to the club's various creditors, rather than to Davies).

His apparent (alleged) desire to have his name plastered over certain things may seem egotistical and is a little bit embarrassing, let's be honest. But do we really care what a certain suite is named? Or who a 'Honorary President' is? We can all just chuckle as we pass the door on the odd occasion we're there. Small price to pay for a more certain future in my book.

In summary, if we all paused for some sensible reflection, we'd see that Eddie has given a lot to the club in his time in charge, and while it's ended in farce and ridicule for all involved, the good days were good and the bad days were bad - overall, I think it was fun while it lasted.