Football

Bolton's dramatic demise should have been avoided

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Football is a precarious business.

It never used to be, it used to be pretty simple. However, the eye-watering amounts of money in the game has produced a system of haves and have-nots.

The haves sit in the Premier League, enjoying success, excess and glamour beyond our wildest dreams. Those near the near the bottom of the league face the yearly agony of staying in.

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Failure can be fatal in some cases. Not only do they face the challenge of the fight to get back in the Premier League in what can be a difficult league to get promoted from, but some also face financial ruin that puts the club on the brink of extinction.

We have seen it all before with the case of Leeds United. Here was a club that in its desperate attempts to maintain success simply, overspent. The issues came when the desired success fell short.

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Their failure to repeat their magnificent run in Europe's prestigious Champions League created a financial vacuum that lead to the club selling the crown jewels at a cut price.

The success on the field dried up, relegation loomed, relegation happened and one of football's most cherished clubs went into freefall. It became known as "doing a Leeds".

The tale of Leeds United should have warned the world of football that a simple equation is needed. Success on the field=success off the field. With success, loyalty and shrewd financial investments comes stability.

This equation was overlooked by Leeds in the pursuit of short-term gains. However, their fall should have acted as a warning - a warning that some simply did not pay attention to.

Of the 22 teams that competed in the inaugural Premier League back in 1992-3...11 are no longer there. Three of which, Sheffield United, Coventry City and Oldham Athletic now play their weekends in the third tier of English football.

One was dissolved entirely as Wimbledon became MK Dons and others are facing financial difficulties. As the seasons have come and gone, so have those who believed that staying in the Premier League was a given - as long as the money was spent.

F.A Cup Winners in that era, Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic saw a fall. Relegation was nothing short of a disaster. Former Premier League Champions, Blackburn Rovers have seen themselves become a regular fixture in the second tier, as have Bolton Wanderers.

Some of the above are facing the financial difficulties adapting to life outside of the Premier League. The latest one in this calamity is Bolton. The players have not been paid, the owner wants out and even prepared to write off over £180 million in debts as they search for a new owner.

What is more alarming is that only now - when the club is facing disaster - people have taken some notice. The harsh truth is (and many faithful Trotters will agree) that this crisis has been looming since the club's relegation from the Premier League.

When the going was good it was another case of overspend in order to sustain success on the pitch. When it went bad it became clear that Bolton needed a fast route back to the promised land and the riches of Premier League football.

Following the club's first season in the second tier of English football came the announcement of financial losses. The Guardian highlighted the losses at the club - doubled to £50 million during the 2012-13 season.

The cost of relegation hurt. Yet this only highlighted the club's overspend. In their final season in the Premier League, the club announced losses of £22 million, even before relegation The overspend on players and sustaining Premier League wages on Championship money has slowly eaten away at the club's core.

It was also recently reported by the Guardian that the club now is losing £1 million a month and are no longer able to fall back on parachute payments. To make matters worse, the success on the pitch has all but dried up.

Rock bottom of the league, a potential administration and possible point deduction should a buyer not be found. A second relegation in four years is on the cards, another former Premier League club in freefall to the third tier.

"Doing a Leeds" should have been the warning to all of the footballing world and Bolton are the latest not to heed it.

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Topics:
Bolton Wanderers
Championship
Football

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