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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » Peter Reid: "I understand why Bolton's players reached the end of their tether"

Peter Reid: "I understand why Bolton's players reached the end of their tether"

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Life at a cash-strapped club is not simply about pounds, pence and spreadsheets, warns former Wanderer Peter Reid.

The administration process at Bolton is nearing a conclusion, with a new owner due to be selected from the six current available options by the end of this week.

It is hoped that will finally spell the end of a sorry chapter in the club’s history – and one that Reid will be happy to consign to the history books.

Money – or lack thereof – has been an issue for months and has led to some unimaginable hardship for staff, some of whom have been forced to turn to food banks for support after former owner Ken Anderson withdrew his funding completely.

Players and coaches have not been paid a full month’s wage since February, leading some contracted first teamers to hand in their notice and leave for free. Others have been left in limbo waiting to see if they can stay at Bolton next season.

Reid is dismayed at the state of his former club but as accountants wrestle with non-existent cashflow in the summer months, he drew on his own experiences at Leeds United and Plymouth to explain the human impact of life in administration.

Few in the game are better-qualified than the former Sunderland boss, now in the coaching team at neighbouring Wigan Athletic.

Caught up in a landslide at Leeds in 2003, he then spent several months in League One with Argyle – even selling an FA Cup runners-up medal to help pay the bills.

And with that in mind, Reid hopes staff and players are being given emotional support, even as administrators battle to save the business.

“We talk about mental health in football more and more, and when you are in the set of circumstances that Bolton are you need to take care of people,” he told The Bolton News.

“I experienced administration at Leeds United, who are a massive club but they’d already had to sell a lot of their players to pay the bills under Terry Venables and the whole place had dropped a level and when I was involved it still had much further to go. It was a mess.

“It really hit me at Plymouth, which was on a much smaller scale. Wages were getting deferred but when we went into administration people were getting made redundant, they were losing their jobs.

“You could see the human impact it had on the staff around the place, folk who had been there for years, and it drained the whole club.”

Administration hit Home Park in March 2011 after several months of financial problems, which left Reid having to fork out to pay travel expenses for the team and even heating bills for the changing rooms.

With that in mind, he could sympathise with some of the issues faced by Wanderers’ coaching staff last season as the club slid towards relegation.

“Plymouth were actually a very young side and people will say players should just be able to get on with it, get the job done,” he said. “But that just ignores the fact you are human beings.

“You have got to accept that players, like anyone else, are earning a living for their family. When they go home and they are not getting paid they’ll get earache – and I don’t mean that with disrespect – it is just a fact of life. When you have got a mortgage to pay, everyone in your family feels the pressure.

“You look at the situation which built up at Bolton and I can understand why the lads might have felt they’d reached the end of their tether.

“I know Steve Parkin and Phil Parkinson well and if you’re talking about conscientious people they are right up there with the best.

“They prepare well for games. But look at what they have had to deal with over such a long period of time and I’d imagine it would be mentally tiring for any football coach to be continually trying to set your team up against top opposition in the Championship, big budgets, but then also having to contend with players and staff not getting paid.

“People will say it shouldn’t affect them but it’s a fact, it does. It grinds you down even if you don’t realise it.”

Wanderers last dropped into League One in 2016 when Reid was recruited to help Jimmy Phillips for the final couple of months of a Championship campaign which looked beyond salvage.

Even then, the former Burnden Park midfielder picked up on a vibe from the boardroom which he feels was destructive.

“I went in after the club had been taken over, in fact it was Ken Anderson who actually brought me back,” he said.

“To be honest, I didn’t have much involvement with Ken. Dean Holdsworth was more hands-on at the time.

“But when that went wrong, it all became a bit fractious. You could see the lads were affected by what was happening.

“They knew I wasn’t going to be the next manager, and neither was Jimmy Phillips. We’d been brought in to help and to see the season out.

“I’ve been in football since I was 15 years old at Bolton. And I can tell you that players want leadership, they want structure, it’s part of the players’ DNA.

“When they haven’t got that, or they can pick up those warning signs from the manager or the ownership, then they don’t perform out on the pitch. It would be the same for any company if an employee didn’t feel right in the workplace.”


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