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Bolton CEO Emma Beaugeard on Football Ventures' first 100 days at club

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Bolton CEO Emma Beaugeard on Football Ventures' first 100 days at club

"Basically, everything was broken and has needed mending,” – Emma Beaugeard pulled no punches when asked what had occupied her time in the 100 days since Football Ventures completed their takeover.

Though many of the scars left by Ken Anderson’s toxic tenure and the consequent spell in administration are still plainly evident, Bolton Wanderers does now appear to be getting the love it needs to get back on track.

A solid framework of staff has been assembled, maintenance work continues in a stadium which has been badly neglected and the ‘Made in Bolton’ mantra has proved so popular it even made it to the House of Commons, via new speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

And in the middle of it all, a chief executive who has been hard at work since day one.

“It’s amazing, it feels like it has only been a week,” said Beaugeard, a long-time associate of co-owner and chairman, Sharon Brittan. “I honestly feel like we have done a huge amount already, although it isn’t necessarily visible to the outside world.

“On the football side there has been a lot to organise bringing the managers in, the players, then we’ve had the kit, season tickets, the stadium – which has needed some pretty urgent and basic safety repairs.”

On the staffing front, an appointment of some note is Anthony Massey, the former Wanderers finance director who resigned in June 2016 shortly after Anderson’s arrival.

Beaugeard believes his knowledge of the club and experience – some of which was gained in another stormy spell at the end of Eddie Davies’s reign as owner – will be invaluable.

“Anthony is one of the boomerang staff who knows the job, can hit the ground running because he has done it before,” she said. “And since his last spell with Bolton he has had experience in hotels, which fits in with what we are trying to do.”

Massey is not the only familiar face in a new-look staff at the UniBol, Beaugeard explained.

“Andy Gartside (chief operating officer) was an incredible help during the takeover in terms of his experience in football, knowledge of the club and his legal counsel,” she said.

“He’s such a good guy and obviously a huge fan of Bolton Wanderers who wants nothing but the best for the club.

“Lee Rimmington has also come back to us on the commercial sales side, helping us be a bit more proactive in bringing things in to benefit the supporters.

“And then we have Paul Holliday who does a great job on the media side. He had stepped away but is now back on board full time, which we’re delighted with.

“We have persuaded quite a few people to come back and it has helped add to that great base crew of staff who had worked so hard and stayed so loyal.

“Then on the football side we’ve brought in Irfan Kawri, who is a step in the direction Keith Hill and David Flitcroft want to go in, bringing that DNA through from entry level, strengthening links with the grassroots clubs.”

Thus far, Beaugeard says there have been few ‘nasty surprises’ aside perhaps for the scale of repairs needed to some parts of the stadium.

One aspect which has caught her by surprise, however is the number of people involved in getting a team out on to the pitch each weekend.

“I think it’s widely known that I don’t have a professional background in football but when it comes to running a business effectively or bringing in innovative measures, I know I’m very capable,” she said.

“Even still, it really is a huge operation, and there’s nowhere to hide. It can be quite a beautiful thing when everything goes right on the pitch, but we know it can go the other way too – and that doesn’t feel too great.

“The mood has been amazing since we came in and I do hope people are buying in to what we want to do.”


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