Fortunately an exciting World Cup has satiated our appetites for football over the summer and hopefully England will continue to progress as I believe any success they may have will have a knock-on effect with domestic football up and down the country.
Having said that, behind the scenes at Bolton Wanderers Football Club, there has been no let-up in our pursuit of continuing the progress on and off the field.
From the moment the fixtures were announced to the confirmation of our pre-season fixtures, the management and recruitment team have been busy strengthening the squad and plotting our strategy for the entire campaign.
There was the usual excitement on fixture release day and we are looking forward to taking on last season’s relegated Premier League teams, especially with West Brom first up.
It will be a good test for us and I am sure you will all, like me, be pleased with the number of local derbies we have this campaign.
The games against Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Preston North End, both home and away, will be played with the usual passion. This is the first time for as long as I can remember that all four of us have been in the same division.
Our pre-season campaign gets underway on Saturday with a game against newly-promoted St Mirren who ply their trade in Scotland’s top-flight.
This game will be an ideal start to our pre-season, especially with the squad spending a week north of the border on a training camp.
Due to The Killers and Little Mix concerts and the Rugby League Challenge Cup semi-finals taking place, we have been unable to play a friendly game at Macron Stadium; however, we will be playing La Liga side Girona at the County Ground, Leyland on Saturday 21 July.
Ticket details will be announced in due course, but we’d like to express our gratitude to the Lancashire FA for helping us to stage this fixture. I’m sure many of you as possible will attend to see the lads in action.
I must once again offer huge praise to our groundstaff and maintenance team who have worked diligently through very tough conditions to ensure that we are able to stage these momentous events as well as having a superb playing surface for the season ahead.
Check out the details of all our pre-season fixtures by CLICKING HERE.
I am pleased with the way the squad is shaping up at the moment, and I’m delighted to welcome Jason Lowe, Erhun Oztumer and Clayton Donaldson on board.
I’m pleased that Sammy Ameobi has returned on a new two-year deal too. There were several clubs interested in his services but his passion for the club and his desire to help us progress ultimately saw him come back.
We were also delighted to see Ben Alnwick sign the same length deal after his impressive Player of the Year-winning performances in 2017/18.
We are in discussions with several more players and I expect us to make some solid progress in the coming days. The players we have targeted are now starting to return from their family holidays and we are due to speak with some of them towards the end of this week. We are also taking a look at one or two up in Scotland.
As always, there is a lot of speculation in the media regarding transfers and some of the rumours have been wide of the mark. We will only comment on a signing once the paperwork has been completed and we will always be the first to let you know once the contract has been signed.
Sometimes speculation can be unhelpful as it may drive up interest from elsewhere in the player which could make it more difficult for us to sign him.
The season ticket seat renewal deadline day is this Thursday which means that if you haven’t yet renewed your season ticket, you may lose your specified seat.
I strongly urge you all to renew your seat or, if you have never had a season ticket, to buy one. Not only is it the most cost effective way of watching Bolton Wanderers throughout the 2018/19 campaign compared to buying tickets on a match by match basis, but you also help the club to recruit new players which will strengthen the squad.
Every penny you invest into the club, whether that be in the shape of season tickets or replica kit, really does help to strengthen our ‘war chest’. To quote a famous supermarket slogan, ‘Every Little Helps’!
With a month to go until the season starts, I really hope that we can increase our season ticket numbers as well as replica shirt sales.
It would be great to see the stadium packed to the rafters for that first Sky Bet Championship game against Bristol City with all our supporters in fine voice wearing their colours. I’m certain that that will help us get off to a great start!
There have also been some rumours regarding possible investors, which, again, have been very wide of the mark. What I can say is that we are in discussions with four parties who are looking to invest in the club and once we are in a position to make an announcement, we shall do so via the club’s official channels.
Likewise, we are very close to finalising naming rights on the stadium and we shall confirm this once everything has been agreed.
I am pleased that Jimmy Phillips has remained as Academy Manager, especially after a very successful campaign for the Under-18s and Under-23s last season.
As you all know, Jimmy was a product of the Bolton Wanderers youth system, played for the club in two separate spells, coached the first team and is now managing our Academy.
I cannot think of a better, more qualified person for the role and I’m looking forward to even more success over the coming years.
Finally, on behalf of everybody connected with Bolton Wanderers Football Club and Bolton Whites Hotel, I would like to place on record our sincere gratitude to all those involved in tackling the Winter Hill moorland fire which has been burning for several days.
The Lancashire Fire Service, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Bolton Mountain Rescue Team and many other agencies, some of whom have travelled from all over the country, are working around the clock to keep our community safe.
Let’s hope the weather conditions ease up a little for them and they are able to get some respite.