A couple of weeks ago, my dad and I continued a family tradition by attending a lower league football match on Boxing Day. Usually, we end up at some turgid affair of laughably poor quality - of which Gloucester City 0-1 Oxford City in 2017 was a particular low point - but this time around we were treated to one of the finest League Two footballing performances you’re likely to see.
The team in question was Forest Green Rovers, a team I’ve kind of had a loose interest in from afar given their geographical location to where I grew up, their intriguing environmentally-friendly approach and, admittedly, their cool kit colour. Forest Green were sublime on Boxing Day, going to Newport County and playing them off the park as they eased to an impressive 4-1 victory.
They played the kind of passing football that the likes of Manchester City would be proud of, and that Bolton Wanderers could only dream of. The goalkeeper was confidently playing short passes out to his centre-back from goal kicks, and they scored a superb team goal that began deep in their own half and was finished superbly by striker Tahvon Campbell. And then there was a sublime hat-trick scored by former Fulham midfielder George Williams.
As a Bolton fan, I couldn’t help but feel that Christian Doidge, having ‘signed’ for Bolton on a loan-to-buy deal four months prior, had taken a bit of a step back in terms of the quality of football he now found himself playing. Furthermore, ever since we signed Doidge I’d questioned the feasibility of us being able to actually buy him for a reported £1 million, especially when it then emerged that the club was unable to pay players’ wages.
These fears have come true, as it was yesterday revealed that Doidge has now returned to Forest Green. And the Gloucestershire club’s chairman Dale Vince has not held back in lashing out at his Bolton counterpart. He issued the following statement:
“Bolton’s Chairman, Ken Anderson, made a lot of promises on the last day of the transfer window, both to Christian and FGR, and has kept none of them. This is all his work and from talking to Ken he feels immune from the consequences - but some of these promises are written in legally binding contracts, and we’ll be pursuing them.
“When the dust settles, we’ll talk to the EFL about how they regulate clubs like Bolton. They already regulate the club to a degree, controlling all TV monies to make sure that football debts get paid. Hard not to wonder whether the league could also have a role in approving the terms of any contracts entered into - to make sure that they are actually within the means of the club. We had no way to know, but the EFL should have the inside view on that.
“And finally (for now...) - Disappointing as it is to see this go pear shaped, both for FGR and Christian, I’m also excited by the prospect of the second half of the season with Christian back with us. I’m sure all FGR fans everywhere will join me in welcoming him back.”
In response to Vince’s claim, Bolton Wanderers this morning issued the following club statement:
“Bolton Wanderers Football Club is aware of the statement issued by Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince.
“We are disappointed to read the statement as the club has been in dialogue with Mr Vince and Forest Green Rovers over this situation.
“We are hopeful that a satisfactory resolution will follow.”
To which Vince has brilliantly responded with the following:
“Bolton saying they still think they can get a deal for Doidge reminds me of Theresa May saying she’ll still get a Brexit deal. It’s not going to happen.”
Vince has also issued a statement of support to Bolton fans, stating the following:
“Thanks to all the Bolton fans, really appreciate what’s been said. We don’t hold this against your club or fans, there’s one man to blame, hope your issues get sorted out soon. If our legal action helps with that then some good will have come from this.”
Forest Green is a brilliantly run club with a chairman that’s doing good things for the club and the community, so it’s disappointing to say the least that our club has treated them in this way. The promised £1 million (we think) is a huge amount of money for any League Two club, and it’s embarrassing to see our club break the promises made to them.
Bolton Wanderers’ proud 145-year history is in serious doubt. The club is in a huge, widely publicised financial mess - which unfurled further on Friday - our Chairman has repeatedly lied to us, and who knows what the solution will be - but it’s clear it won’t be a positive one. I’m fed up with our club continually being dragged through the mud for matters that are largely nothing to do with football, and it’s high time something changed. And when other club owners are outing him, it’s clear that something’s seriously wrong.
If you’re as fed up as we are with this ongoing mess, then join us - and all the other Bolton fan-run blogs - in protesting against the club’s ownership. Further information on this is available here.