After three months of being stuck in limbo, Bolton Wanderers have finally been officially relegated to League Two.
For the first time since 1988, Wanderers will be playing in the fourth tier of English football. Now we know for sure what division the club will be in, there are a number of decisions that need to be made both on & off the pitch.
With just ten players under contract for next season, the club have a number of decisions to make in regards to who stays and who goes. With the shackles of the transfer embargo & the reduced revenue of playing in L2, coupled with the fact that some players might not want to ply their trade in the fourth tier, it’s likely that many players will leave at the end of the month. If players are settled in the area off the pitch, they might be more inclined to take a pay cut and stay. One player who has yet to sign a professional deal is Ronan Darcy. I’m sure we’re all hoping to not see another talented youngster leave the club for a fee well below their worth. With the academy downgraded, any compensation the club will receive should Darcy sadly leave will be miniscule.
Keith Hill: in or out?
With the club remaining completely silent over the past couple of months, rumours have been flying around surrounding the future of our onion loving manager. His contract is rumoured to be up at the end of the month, so have we seen the last of Keith Hill in the Wanderers dugout? We could well have. Will David Flitcroft leave too or will be in the running for the top job?
With the changes in the academy, David Lee doesn’t have an U23 team to manage. Could he make the step up to the first team? It would certainly prove to be a popular choice with many fans & he has already coached many of the players who will be around next season.
Is Kevin Nolan a viable option still? Would he leave West Ham to manage Wanderers?
We’ve been told repeatedly that Football Ventures have plans in place to ensure Wanderers are well equipped for a promotion charge next season. Well that was before a global pandemic curtailed the season.
With a transfer embargo in place, Bolton are going to have to be shrewd in the market to acquire the right players who will improve the clubs’ chances of achieving promotion next season. It seems that the club are looking towards the non-league clubs for cheap talent, with AFC Fylde striker Kurt Willoughby a rumoured target. Head of football operations Tobias Phoenix is likely to have a big say on recruitment.
Also, Nicky Hunt is out of contract at the end of the month. We all dream...
Like with the situation surrounding the managers job, rumours have been flying around in regards to potential changes at the top of the club. Will there be a role change or will certain people leave? Perhaps we’ll get some clarity on that soon now that the league situation is resolved.
We’ve seen recently that mortgages have been issued against club assets should the club fail to be able to pay back the administrators and Fildraw. When Football Ventures took over last year, they stated they had a three year plan to fund the club. Obviously that didn’t take into account a global pandemic prematurely ending the season. The club furloughed many members of staff and the directors continued to work on reduced salaries. However, they’re still probably going to need further investment to ensure problems don’t arise in the future. The lack of income will have hit most clubs hard, it's not just Bolton who will feel the struggle in the near future.
The aim at the moment is to start next season sometime in September, though who knows whether fans will be allowed to attend games by then. If there is any stadium that accommodate a socially distanced crowd in League Two, it's the UNIBOL. If fans won't be able to go, the club will have to explore the option of an ifollow pass to ensure fans can still watch the games at home.
Hopefully they'll have learned what not to do from the Sunderland statement from last week. An affordable at home pass will be key to keep fans engaged with the club until the time we'll be allowed to attend.