As 2015 draws to a close, it is safe to say that the final few months of this calendar year have been a testing time for Bolton Wanderers – in fact, that is an understatement of the highest order.
Without a win for three months and bottom of the Championship table, the club’s financial insecurity has overshadowed the entirety of what has been a bleak season.
Long-standing owner, Eddie Davies, is yet to sell up to an interested party, causing concern among supporters, with the takeover talks still up in the air. With little information released about either of the parties who are interested, fans have become bemused and also confused by the lack of information given out by the club who have, so far, and rightly so given the circumstances, kept quiet on matters in the boardroom.
Dean Holdsworth and his Sports Shield consortium are, if the local newspaper are to believed, close to taking over the ownership from Davies. This would be welcomed news, and would put an end to a saga that has dragged on for a considerable amount of time. However, a winding-up order still remains in place, though Bolton have been granted more time to carry on trading – with the beleaguered side due to answer the petition at the High Court on January 18 – worrying times indeed.
The persistent threat of administration still looms, but Trevor Birch, the Financial Advisor, drafted in by Davies to oversee the situation, is confident that such a scenario would be unlikely, for now.
With all the events occurring off the field of play, on the pitch, things look just as bleak, and despite points against Charlton Athletic and Fulham in their last two encounters, Wanderers remain rooted to the foot of the league standings.
The timely return of Zach Clough – who netted a brace in his first game back in the 2-2 draw with the Cottagers on Saturday afternoon, showed exactly what Wanderers had missed throughout his absence. The 20-year-old’s return from injury lay-off could spark life back into the Trotters’ forward line, who have lacked quality in abundance this season.
Emile Heskey and Gary Madine have struggled for form, while Max Clayton has suffered yet another unfortunate long-term injury, so Clough’s return is a boost, whether that be for the short term, or a longer period of time. No doubt, with the club in their current financial mess, Clough, a talent who will undoubtedly go to the top in the future, could be sold in the next month to raise much needed funds.
Bolton’s plight has, in truth, been somewhat on the cards ever since relegation from the Premier League, more than three years ago. Players signing for large sums and large wages spent on those players, only to see them leave on free transfers at the expiration of their contracts, has become a regular theme over the past two or three seasons.
Due to these financial restrictions, manager Neil Lennon has struggled to build a competitive squad. Subsequently, his managerial career since taking the job south of the border has taken a backwards step, leading to some pockets of the Macron Stadium faithful pondering whether he is the man to take the Greater Manchester outfit forward.
It pains me to say this, but negative results in our next few fixtures over the festive period could pretty much condemn Bolton to relegation come what May, with the gap at the bottom of the table increasing. In a season which has seemingly got worse and worse as weeks have gone on, with Bolton occupying the front and back pages of national publications, supporters are hoping it can all be resolved in the New Year.