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Phil Gartside Exclusive - Part One

Posted: Mon 28 May 2012
Author: BWFC Staff

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Bolton Wanderers Chairman Phil Gartside speaks to the club's official website

Bolton Wanderers Chairman Phil Gartside has been speaking to the official website.

In a wide ranging interview, he outlined his hopes for the new season, the challenges of the 2011/12 campaign and the unprecedented events the club faced.

He confirmed that owner Eddie Davies remains 100 percent committed to backing the Wanderers, with the club having no significant bank debt.

Part one of the interview is published today, part two will follow later in the week.


Phil, do you envisage a busy summer in preparation of the 2012/13 campaign?
"Since the season finished, we have had a very active couple of weeks. We had a bit to do as regards the squad and now that's done, we start the next phase.

"Going into 2012/13, we pretty much have the same squad that we were planning to have in the Barclays Premier League, bar one, and that is exciting, as we are mixing youth with experience.

"All our younger players are on long-term contracts and if anything did change, it would be what we wanted to change and not be driven by outside interests. It will be our choice.

"Owen's plan will be backed - whatever he wants to do he will get to do it.

"We will be looking once again to bring players in on loan, and this has been very successful for us in the past couple of seasons, and the opportunity in the Championship is greater because you are not restricted to just two.

"We have enough goodwill with the teams like Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City and we will be working hard to utilise that.

Although a way off, what are your thoughts for next season?
"We have a real chance I believe and I am looking forward to that, but nobody at our club is making the mistake of underestimating the Championship.

"You have some big clubs in the league with traditional followings, such as Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest who, let's not forget, have secured two European Cups.

"We know what we want to achieve and we are ambitious, make no mistake, but we also know we are not alone in that ambition.

"West Ham got back under Sam through the play-offs, so everyone can see what it requires to get promoted and, I guess, that's what makes it such a tough league.

What about last season?
"Well, yes, there was disappointment, for me personally as a fan as well as the Chairman, as there was too with all supporters. I am sure it was really hard for a few days as it all sunk in.

"There was a pride that we had been in the Premier League as long as we have and, in my 50-odd years supporting Bolton, those last 11 years spent in the top tier have, all in all, been pretty fantastic.

"But now it is fair to say we have come through what happened at the end of the season and we have a real desire.

"We want to do it all again, to take a place in the top tier, and there is a real positive approach to the new season in and around our club.

"Throughout the campaign there was tremendous backing for the team both at home and on their travels. We had some of the best support I can remember.

"Last season we saw our crowds at the Reebok increasing yet again, this year by over three percent.

Fans

"Attendances have increased by over 13 percent in the past four seasons and that was good because it was a clear demonstration that supporters have responded positively to our pricing policy. They helped to shape it through our consultations we undertook with fans.

"We also saw the away support rise by six percent and I have to thank the fans for their backing wherever we have played.

"Looking ahead, we have already sold over 6,000 season tickets and are expecting a particularly busy two to three weeks ahead as we fast approach the early purchase discount deadline.

"We realise that it's still tough economically and that people have hard choices to make, so we have frozen ticket prices again.

Would you say the 2011/12 season was one of the most testing times during your period as chairman of Bolton Wanderers?
"What's gone on has been challenging for us all - people who work at the club and our fans too. We have all had to cope with what was an emotional rollercoaster.

"We started off pre-season with such optimism but we lost key players through injury and then we had those unprecedented experiences.

"During my time in football, I have never had a season like that in terms of injuries and mishaps. We had some serious blows in losing Gary Speed and, when you thought things couldn't get worse, there were the events surrounding Fabrice.

"But we start next season with a clean slate. We have Chung-Yong and Stuart back in the frame and we will be looking to add to that mix too.

"Even though the 2011/12 term only finished two weeks ago, I think you can already sense the optimism amongst the fans moving into next season.

"I was at the service of remembrance last week with Owen and that always reminds you just how much our club means to people and how Bolton Wanderers runs through family's generations. It reinforced how much we strive to be a family club.

"We may not always get that right but we are always trying because we know how much and how important fans are. Players, managers and chairmen come and go but the support always remains.

"We want to take the club forward and begin a new stage, that's the aim and it would be great if we could continue to count on that support, because it is going to be a huge factor.

"If we can have good following home and away it will be a massive boost."