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Mankind’s Refusal to Learn the Lessons of History

As Stoke City announce their latest finances you have to ask, why do we never learn?

Burnley v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Its soft debt. The owner is a fan, he won’t call that money in. If you say it enough times you come to believe it. Us Bolton Wanderers fans would know. We have been there done that and we have the relegation party t-shirts as souvenirs.

Stoke City recently announced that their debt is creeping up. It is all owed to their owner Peter Coates who made his fortune through Bet 365. No risk to the club then surely? Eddie Davies is also a Bolton fan. He made his fortune in wireless kettle parts, or something like that, I don’t really care. He put money into the club. It started out as a few million each season and a few million the next too.

Then before you know it you you drop into the Championship and your income plummets. Your David N’Gog’s, Xherden Shaqiri’s and Chris Eagles’ have no relegation clauses in their contracts. Suddenly a few million here and there spirals out of control.

As Stoke hit £76 million in so called soft debt us Bolton fans cannot help but feel a sense of Deja Vu. I wouldn’t wish the next bit on any team, even if they may have relegated us and beaten us 5-0 at Wembley.

Stoke will not be in the Premier League forever and these latest financial results should set alarm bells ringing. Will they? I doubt it.

Bolton Wanderers v Leeds United
Leeds drop out of the Premier League at the Reebok
Photo by Gary M.Prior/Getty Images

In my time as a football fan, maybe 15 years or so of actual memory, football has been littered with cautionary tales. First Leeds United spiralled out of the Prem and into League One. Then Portsmouth nearly became the first Premier League team to enter administration. 7 years on and they have only just climbed back out of League Two. Now it is out beloved Bolton with the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic reportedly not far behind.

Coventry v Sheff Wed
Coventry in their Premier League days

Go back a bit further and you have Coventry City. In 2001 they had been a top flight team for 34 years, a run only bettered by Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal, but would suffer relegation. They nearly entered administration in 2007 but were spared with 20 minutes to go. Tell me how close were Bolton? In 2012 they dropped into League One for the first time in 48 years. A couple of years later they lost their stadium which now belongs to rugby union side Wasps and is no longer seen as their long term home. Last season they dropped into the fourth tier of English football for the first time since 1959.

That is a journey which financial mismanagement played a huge role in. Rather like Bolton’s recent fall into League One along with Blackburn Rovers’ and Leeds United’s before them. There is only one way when you face financial ruin and that is down.

Its like with anything in life people never learn. In 2008 we all resolved to make sure another banking crisis will never happen, does anyone really think we will learn from our mistakes there rather like we didn’t after the great depression? History is littered with moments where mankind opts to forget what happened before thinking this time will be different.

Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

I have news for you Stoke City, and anyone else heading that way, when you do the same thing over and over again the end result does not differ. The end of your Premier League adventure will come at some point, and I hope for the clubs sake you have sorted your shit out by then.