After a disastrous relegation season at Bolton Wanderers, a campaign that also nearly spiralled out of control off the pitch, the focus now switches to a summer schedule which will most likely define their future, not just in the short-term, but potentially for years to come.
The club will compete in the third-tier of English football for the first time since 1993 come the start of August, having concluded their four-year Championship stay by finishing rock-bottom of the league standings.
Bolton’s last ten months will certainly be one to forget. They went a whole season without winning away from home, a feat which was confirmed following the 1-0 defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage last Saturday lunchtime.
However, with the football all done and dusted for a few months, chairman Ken Anderson and chief executive, Dean Holdsworth, will have their work cut out to ensure that the summer shake-up at the Greater Manchester outfit passes off without a hitch.
Difficult challenges need to be overcome from now until the beginning of the League One season, the first of which is the appointment of a new manager.
Names of several individuals who have been linked with the position in the dugout have been bandied around over the past few weeks, following the decision that Holdsworth took to relieve Neil Lennon of his duties and replace him with Jimmy Phillips, alongside Peter Reid on an interim basis.
The lack of clarity given out by Wanderers regarding the managerial vacancy has confused both players and supporters alike – there is an air of uncertainty around who will become the new manager at BL6, despite Lennon leaving his position in mid-March.
Ex-Wigan Athletic manager, Uwe Rosler, and former Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill are considered the front-runners for the job at Bolton, as former favourite Phil Brown looks set to remain in charge at Southend United, due to his former employers hitting a stumbling block in negotiations to bring him back as manager.
Relegation has subsequently hit the once Premier League stalwart hard. It has forced the club to make significant cuts to first-team backroom staff, as they are unfortunately faced with a loss of £5m in sponsorship and television revenue – Bolton’s owners informed a number of personnel that their services are not required
Back on the field of play, Wanderers still have key decisions to make with regards to their players. A mass exodus similar to last year is expected, as several current players are out of contract or may not simply want to represent the Trotters at League One level.
Fans await the annual retained list that the club will release into the public domain, as discussions get underway with players about their futures at the troubled side.
High-earners that were signed under previous managerial regimes could be some of the first to leave in the coming weeks, as the club look to balance the books to protect itself.
Due to the current financial situation Bolton find themselves in, along with an embargo which remains in place by the Football League for breaching Financial Play regulations, Wanderers could have to sell some of their homegrown talent, as top-flight and Championship teams begin to take a look at players to sign on the cheap.
Recent reports in the local and national press suggest that Arsenal are keen on Bolton’s Player of the Year, defender Rob Holding, who has made 30 senior appearances in his breakthrough season in the first-team.
Holding could be one of the first to go, but Wanderers must learn from a previous mistake of letting Gary Cahill leave to the bright lights of London for just £7m to Chelsea in 2012, by getting all they can for their 20-year-old starlet, who came through their academy system.
In what will be a summer like no other, patience must be given to whoever takes on the job at hand – Bolton face a prospect of monumental changes both on and off the pitch, and they have to get them right.