As we look towards our opening game of the 2017/18 season tomorrow, I trust you have all had an enjoyable summer and you are feeling refreshed and raring to go for what we hope to be an exciting campaign ahead.
Here, back in the Sky Bet Championship, is where we wanted to be when the season kicked off last year and I am pleased that the club has made the progress we all wanted it to.
Phil Parkinson and his team have continued their superb work during the summer months, bringing back a number of familiar faces alongside eight new players to complement our squad.
Earlier this week, we welcomed Reece Burke and Josh Cullen to Macron Stadium on loan from West Ham United. They are two very exciting prospects, while we were also pleased to be able to add young defender Antonee Robinson and experienced striker Aaron Wilbraham to our ranks.
I am sure like myself, you are looking forward to seeing them and our other signings in action during the coming weeks here at Macron Stadium and on our travels.
It really does not seem that long ago when we were all celebrating our return to the Sky Bet Championship following our final day victory against Peterborough United here at Macron Stadium.
The role you all played, throughout the season right up until the end, helped the club to achieve its ultimate ambition of an automatic return to the second tier.
And here we are, about to savour the fruits of our collective hard work by facing Leeds in front of the Sky Sports cameras tomorrow afternoon for the start of the campaign.
The players gave their absolute all to get this football club back to this level and tomorrow afternoon’s game in front of an audience of millions at home will give them all the perfect opportunity to prove their worth on a wider scale as well as to those inside the ground.
Leeds will certainly be a tough test for us having been in and around the top six last season, but these are the kind of games that we wanted to win promotion for and I have every confidence that the team will do us all proud this afternoon.
Indeed, during the opening weeks of the campaign we face a number of the promotion favourites and while these will offer a good challenge for us, they will be exciting games nonetheless.
The staff here at Bolton Wanderers Football Club and Bolton Whites Hotel have been working very hard behind the scenes to get everything in readiness for today and the rest of the campaign.
From the ground staff, both at Macron Stadium and at the training ground, whose sterling work on the pitch is there for you all to see today, to the club shop, ticket office, promotions department staff as well as the commercial, marketing and facilities teams.
I would also like to give a special mention to the accounts staff for all the hard work and assistance they have given me over the last year or so in working towards a sustainable business plan.
I really do appreciate everything they have done and know full well that at times they have been working under extreme pressure.
The football management have also worked very hard in challenging circumstances and they deserve plenty of credit for all the effort they are all putting in, especially the Academy and Under-23 staff who are working tirelessly on identifying and trialling future prodigies.
Finally, my gratitude must extend to all our supporters, corporate clients and sponsors for your continued support. Hopefully, we will have a successful season to follow on from last year but we all know it is a big step up from when we were last in the Championship with all the money that is now flying around.
With the spirit in the team and the organisation of the management however, l am optimistic that we will surprise a few people along the way this season as we did last year, albeit during a far more challenging task.
This is why we really need as many of you to come along every week and intimidate the opposition as you did last season.
As always, let’s be loud, let’s be proud and let’s get right behind the team.