The Football League abiding, Bolton Wanderers finally, FINALLY, have new owners, with Dean Holdsworth's Sports Shield Consortium and Australian accountant Bruce Gordon each buying a 50% stake in the club. Providing we have no more nightmares when we're next in court come March 7th it'll finally be time for us all to look forward, begin the new chapter after one of the darkest we've ever read, and hopefully try and salvage this dreadful campaign. And if not, at least prepare for next year in League One and get everyone at the club smiling again.
The first steps of that process will be the most resonating, and here are five things the news owners should consider doing as soon as they have the power to do so:
1) Sack Neil Lennon
Pretty obvious way to start, really. The constraints that Neil Lennon has had to work under this year are obviously extremely tenuous and many men would struggle to do a job in the same circumstances, and the way Lennon has handled himself and the during such a difficult period should be commended, but none of it equates to some of the utterly bizarre decisions he's made on the pitch this year. The constant chopping and changing of starting XIs, the arbitrary isolations of the likes of Lawrie Wilson and Tom Walker, atrocious tactics and a clear loss of all the players' confidence means he simply can't stay on under the new regime. A fresh start is needed throughout the club and if Bolton are going to survive this season then there's going to have to be another man in the hot seat.
2) Give Rob Holding a new contract
The young defender has been a revelation this season, one of the few sparks of hope in another wise period of complete darkness. First coming into fill the right back position, where he did well, upon David Wheater's injury he's been shifted into his natural position of centre back and has excelled there. Strong and commanding in the back line, easily outshining the supposedly established Dorian Dervite, pacey and very good on the ball, Holding is proving that experience is very much overrated. The scary thing is is that his contract is up this summer and obviously nothing has been able to be done about that yet. Holdsworth and co need to act swiftly to get our young talent, including Kaiyne Woolery and a couple of others, tied down to longer deals before we lose them and their potential for a pittance. These youngsters may make the spine of our team as soon as next season, so we can't lose them now.
3) Back the new manager
Despite being dreadful all campaign and only winning four games all year, Bolton still aren't dead yet and, if they get their act together and do action 1), there is a real possibility they could some how avoid the drop. It's never been done from our position before, but it isn't impossible. But it's clear that our squad hasn't the depth or enough quality, especially upfront, to do that right now. (Hopefully) once a new manager is in place, the new owners need to do all they can to back him and bring in some reinforcements in the loan window. It might not be much, but we desperately need some more bodies up top to try and mount a defiant comeback.
4) Add an Elected Representative of the BWFCST to the Board
Understandably, just about every single shred of trust the fans ever had in the board and those in control of their beloved club in recent years has been evaporated over the last few months, after all of us were put through the ringer and left in a perpetual state of limbo, not knowing if our club was actually going to be alive the next day or not. All this stemmed from a total lack of transparency and communications from the powers that be and this absolutely has to change under the new ownership. They need to be in constant conversation with the fans and let our own concerns and opinions be voiced to the board. The best way to this would be for an elected member of the Bolton Wanderers' Supporters' Trust be allocated a seat on the board so the fans will have their own voice in the decision making process at the club. Holdsworth has already spoken about how he's been in conversation with the Trust, but this needs to go further and the fans need to have a say in how their club is ran from now on. It'll go along way to begin to rebuild the bridge between the club and supporters and allow us to trust again.
5) Keep Zach Clough at all Cost
I suppose this one won't happen immediately, but when summer arrives, no matter where Bolton find themselves, clubs are once again going to come in like sharks smelling blood and try to steal Zach Clough away from us. If it's a Premier Club offering a big sum, then I don't think many would begrudge the club or player for accepting that, but he can not, under any circumstances, be allowed to go to a club in the Championship for a pittance price like he nearly did in January. I have faith that Clough wouldn't go to any such club, but our owners need to resist the temptation for a cash in. Clough is our best player, he's the symbol of hope to fans, the symbol that Bolton can produce excellent players and can become excellent themselves again one day. He can't be lost to someone who we perceive to be below us, like Bristol City, as that will completely shatter moral. H's bloody fantastic and if the new owners do have ambition they'll do all they can to keep our best players.