A note from the Chairman

Saturday’s victory against Millwall had been a long time coming and was a just reward for all the hard work and efforts put in by the players in recent matches. Despite the intensity of the game, we played with a lot of confidence.

Hopefully, it will provide a springboard for us to go on a roll of positive results continuing against Sheffield Wednesday tonight and when we make the short trip to our neighbours Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

I am really pleased that we will once again be hosting our community fixture, in conjunction with Bolton Wanderers Community Trust and Bolton at Home, when we host Ipswich Town on Saturday 6 April. I hope everybody is able to take advantage of the £5 ticket offer and pack the stadium as we celebrate our community. You can buy tickets for this game by visiting here.

After a number of last minute hitches which caused some unforeseeable delays, I can confirm that all outstanding salaries for players and coaching staff have now been paid and we can all now put our energy and focus into supporting the players for tonight’s important match.

As I recently said, a great deal has and no doubt will continue to be written and said about my ownership and time at the club if the last few days are anything to go by.

As they say, ‘you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’

Hopefully, the takeover will be completed later this week and the new owners will be in place and will be given the time and opportunity to take the club forward, but if these are to be my final set of notes and comments then it would be remiss of me if I didn’t say a final few words about my time at the club and the people who have helped and assisted me throughout.

I still stand by my decision to appoint Phil Parkinson and his management team and thank each and every one of them for the support and loyalty they have shown me through the good and bad times both on and off the pitch. I can assure you that in my opinion what they have done and achieved for everyone involved with this club has been excellent. Despite constant recent calls for their dismissal, l still believe, they are the best team of people to help this club retain Championship status this season and hopefully kick on next season.

I can honestly say the same for the squads of players that have been involved over the last three years and you only have to look at the current squad’s recent performances against Birmingham City, Leeds United and Millwall to see that the squad are fully behind the management team. With the support and character they have shown throughout the ups and downs, there is no doubt in my mind that they have the tenacity, spirit and togetherness to overcome the challenges ahead.

For my part, I am truly grateful for all the help, patience and understanding they have all extended me through all the highs and lows over the last three years.

Like last season, I am sure there will be many more twists and turns and it would not surprise me if it went to the last few games once again. As we all know and see week in week out the Championship is relentless and the level and standards have gone up several notches in the last few years and the monies being spent now on transfers and salaries by some of the big clubs is not far behind where the Premier League was just a few years back.

I also want to extend my sincere thanks to all the loyal staff throughout the club, stadium, training ground and hotel for everything they have done and the support and loyalty they have continually shown me throughout my time here at the club during all the ups and downs.

No one should ever forget all the hard work and efforts they have put in through extremely difficult and testing times and that it was because of their continued support, commitment, hard work and long hours, often beyond the call of duty, that have ensured the club is in a much better position today than it was three years ago. It is each and every one of them that we have to thank for bringing the major events including the concerts, rugby and numerous conferences and shows back, not to forget the first team games and ensuring the club survived during those dark days.

That said, we all enjoyed some memorable times, especially with our promotion from League 1 at the first attempt and last season’s final day last gasp victory at home Nottingham Forest. Memories that will last forever!

Cash flow has always been a problem at the club, both before and since I became involved, and if it wasn’t for Ed Davies and my limited financial support, I can assure you things would have been far worse. I understand why staff and supporters seem to believe that it’s the owner’s sole responsibility to just keep on personally topping up the bank accounts and pay everything and everybody, but unfortunately that’s not always possible. Business life is just not like that and sometimes I have had to make difficult decisions that obviously don’t make me popular and I can assure you that if there had been a viable alternative I would have taken it. That said, paying the staff salaries late once and the players twice in the three years of my ownership certainly did not sit comfortably with me and is not something I would have chosen to do in other circumstances and I apologise unreservedly to all concerned.

Unfortunately, this problem is not reserved just for football and you only have to look at recent High Street business administrations to see the effect rent, rates and salaries are having on all businesses.

I believe that we have done a reasonable job in trying to control costs at the club, although I am the first to admit that there is still more to achieve before we can say the job is completed, but to put this into perspective, from all the clubs that that have so far  reported last season’s accounts, a number recorded operating losses of over £30m with one close to £50m and salaries alone being substantially higher than total income, with several teams spending close to £1m in wages for every point they achieved last season.

For example, Wolves finished in first place with 99 points and, on wages, spent £512,000 per point as they dominated the Championship. Their turnover was £25.4M but spent 192% of their turnover on wages. Consequently, they made an operating loss of £46.7M.

Cardiff, who finished second on 90 points, spent a total of £48.4M on wages with a turnover of £32.78M, equating to 148%. They made an operating loss of £34.1m.

Bristol City finished in 11th place with 67 points and, on wages, spent an equivalent of £345,000 per point. Their turnover was £17.1M but spent 135% of their turnover on wages and made an operating loss of £15.7m.

Nottingham Forest achieved 53 points and spent a total of £27.7M on wages with a turnover of £22.6M, equating to 122%. They made an operating loss of £20.3M.

I regularly hear that the supporters think Lee and I do not have the same feelings as them when results and matters off the pitch do not go right, but believe me we are both as gutted and frustrated as everyone else and also have terrible and stressful weekend as well. I can tell you that our train and car trips back home are just as bad as everyone else’s. The Club will forever be in both our thoughts and hearts and we will continue to support and look out for the results with bated breath.

I would like to make some comments about the unfortunate incidents we saw at the weekend with spectators invading the pitch at several matches, and especially at St Andrew’s where Jack Grealish was assaulted.

These incidents were appalling and it’s pleasing to note that the relevant authorities are taking the appropriate action which will hopefully act as a deterrent going forward.

I’ve noted several football writers who have commented on the role social media may have played in the general unpleasantness that seems to be permeating through certain sections of society and I have made similar comments myself in the past.

Some people who use these sites almost dehumanise their ‘targets’ and think that any form of abuse is fair game. Through their perceived anonymity they launch no-holds-barred attacks on people which spread contagiously and incite others. As we have seen at the weekend, this frenzy can then enter real life which could have potentially devastating effects on people.

My family and I have been targeted on social media and that is why I have heeded the advice from the police and reluctantly stopped attending matches both home and away in recent weeks.

Hopefully, these social media sites find a method of stopping this uncontrolled and anonymous abuse.

Going forward, all I wish for the staff, players and supporters is all the best for the future and hopefully a return to the Premier League in the not too distant future.

As always, be loud, be proud and get behind the lads tonight and for the rest of this season.


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