Bolton Wanderers’ future has been secured after their takeover by Football Ventures was finally completed yesterday.
Having narrowly missed the EFL deadline on Tuesday, the fans hopes were finally realised as Ken Anderson relinquished control of the ailing Trotters.
They’re safe in terms of their financial future, but they have a huge job on their hands as they face up to life in League One.
They’ve been hit with a 12-point deduction for entering administration last season and have been soundly beaten in all but one of their opening League One fixtures. They trail the nearest club to them by 11 points, with 12 the difference between them and safety.
Many fans will be fearing a spell in League Two next season and at the moment, it does seem likely. There may be punishment heading their way for postponing their fixture with Doncaster Rovers on the grounds of player welfare, as well as retribution for cancelling their match with Brentford last season.
With less than a week to go to the transfer deadline and a first-team squad comprising of youth team players, they look set for a season of struggle. That might not be the case.
Bolton Wanderers are a huge side at this level of football, arguably as big as Ipswich and perhaps only second in terms of support to Sunderland. They’ve got a wonderful ground, good facilities and a rich history of top-flight football.
Right now, they have no manager, no senior players and a blank canvas, which might just be the best thing for them.
If they can work quickly to get players in, there is no reason why they can’t have a viable first-team squad by the time the transfer window shuts. Jack Hobbs had already penned a new deal and was waiting for ratification; how many others might have followed suit?
With the draw of playing in front of big crowds, any free agents still looking for a late deal will surely be drawn to the project at the University of Bolton Stadium. If it’s a choice between them or Rochdale, them or Accrington Stanley, then they’ll surely have the upper hand.
There is also a likelihood that Premier League teams will be eager to hand out a loan player or two, hoping to appear benevolent in the face of the Trotters crisis. Plenty of supporters across the EFL have accused the big clubs of idly standing by whilst lower division teams struggle; they’ll have a chance to make amends.
Supposing they do cobble a squad together, there is still the question of that points gap. It’s a big margin to overcome, but as Wimbledon proved last season it’s possible not just to survive having been so far adrift, but to come back from even further into the season. Bolton have lots of games to pull back what is a relatively small margin in the grand scheme of the season.
The Wombles overturned a ten-point deficit at Christmas and with the form of Gillingham, Accrington and Southend being poor, plus the fact Tranmere’s only win came against a youthful Trotters, there is real hope of the Trotters avoiding the drop.
It’s likely only the bottom three will go down and if Bolton move to address their squad issues quickly, they’ll be in a great place to start hauling back a few points.
There is plenty for their fans to be hopeful about this season now they’ve emerged from the spectre of Ken Anderson’s reign, with League One survival a distinct possibility.