In 2008, Bolton was officially one of the top 50 teams in Europe. Now they are in the third English league. What has been the huge decline of this likeable club from the British Isles?
After two seasons in the European Cups, the English side were 47th in the ranking of the best clubs in Europe. At the time, PSG were 66th, Atlético Madrid 67th, Manchester City 86th and Dortmund even as high as 109th.
Today, it’s all just history. Just as finance helped the aforementioned clubs reach the top, the scenario was the opposite for Bolton.
At the moment, Bolton play in England’s third highest competition. The club managed to get promoted back to League Three after being relegated to League Four in 2020.
This has happened for only the second time in the club’s 146 year history. Yet it wasn’t that long ago that Bolton were beating Atlético Madrid, causing Bayern Munich a hard time. In its existence, Bolton has won the FA Cup four times and finished runners-up three times.
Bolton have never been a club flush with money. Despite this, Bolton’s then coach, Sam Allardyce, was able to bring in some interesting world class names such as Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro, Nicolas Anelka and Jay-Jay Okocha after promotion to the Premier League over the years.
That is to say, footballers who have been world champions or Champions League winners. Campo came straight from Real Madrid, with whom he won the Champions League twice.
Okocha preferred Bolton to PSG. Bolton climbed higher and higher and the result was finishing in the top 10 four times in a row. Twice participating in European competitions and the 2004 League Cup final.
The club’s downfall
In 2007, Allardyce left for Newcastle and the club began to flounder. It hovered at the bottom of the table for the next five years before being relegated to League Two in the 2011-12 season.
As Bolton failed to return to the Premier League, financial problems began to manifest themselves. Long-time owner Eddie Davies wanted to get rid of the club as soon as possible. Debt and tax payment problems persisted and the situation steadily deteriorated.
In 2016, former Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth completed a takeover of the club with his company Sport Shield. Despite being relegated to the third tier, the club managed to bounce back straight away and even with a transfer embargo in place.
By this time Ken Anderson had completed the takeover, having bought a 95% stake from Holdsworth and his failing company. Bolton sold a few players to secure better revenues and try to rectify the financial situation. But the latter remained the biggest problem.
It was relegated to League Three in the 2018-19 season. At that point, the English outfit was facing its fourth liquidation in the last fourteen months.
The players, who were not paid, decided to protest in April 2019, the day before the match against Brentford. They even had to close the training centre because the club had no food or electricity.
Ken Anderson became an extremely hateful person. Banners saying ” Anderson OUT ” and “Anderson Club Killer ” started to appear at every game. In January 2019, a match against West Brom was abandoned because fans threw dozens of tennis balls onto the pitch.
The club subsequently went into administrative proceedings after failing to pay £1.2 million in taxes and faced being docked twelve points from the start of the following season.
In June 2020, the players issued a statement saying they had not been paid for 20 weeks. The new season got underway but Ken Anderson was unable to find any buyers interested in Bolton. Only three senior players remained at the club and the rest were supplemented with youngsters.
In August 2020 a new owner was found for the club. This allowed fans to breathe a sigh of relief.
At the moment, the club is in sixth place in the table, a position that guarantees participation in the playoffs for promotion to the second highest competition.
Source: Wikipedia, Livesport
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