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Wanderers still need owner injection but future plans in place, says CEO Hart

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Wanderers still need owner injection but future plans in place, says CEO Hart 17591903

Wanderers have doubled their commercial returns in the last 12 months – but chief executive Neil Hart says the club is still reliant upon owner funding in their chase for Championship football.

Painting a realistic picture of the financial situation at Bolton, Hart confirmed the board has agreed a fully funded plan for next season, regardless of the division the club is competing in.

Both Football Ventures, the Sharon Brittan-led consortium which bought the club out of administration in 2019, and the BMLL group, who have established a sizeable chunk of the shareholding over the past two years, are committed to keeping the club competitive.

But Hart admits the club’s initial target to move to a ‘break even’ position has been difficult to attain, and though the board feel the current balance is manageable – sustainable, even – the financial input from FV and BMLL remains hugely important.

“Maybe naively when I came to this club three years ago, I thought we could get it to a sustainable position, but I realise now that it is near-on impossible, financially, it really is,” he told The Bolton News.

“Even this year there will be a significant loss on the profit and loss, and that has to be funded. Obviously the BMLL group and other shareholders have played a key part in that.

“That has enabled us to be as competitive as we have been this year.

“And that is alongside what is in my mind really good commercial revenue. You look at our ticketing revenue, our sponsorship, our retail – all of those gross revenue positions have doubled over the last year.

“We have good revenue, we want to be competitive, but we still have a shortfall. And that doesn’t breed sustainability at this level.”

Wanderers are pushing for Championship football, which would bring guaranteed extra revenues from TV, sponsorship and bigger away followings, but also enter them into a notoriously demanding and unequal financial arena for salaries and transfer fees.

EFL chairman, Rick Parry, is pushing for better funding distribution from the Premier League to bridge a funding gap that he says can cost: “£15m just to stand still, and that is before trying to match the clubs who have parachute payments.”

Though Wanderers still have to budget for two different scenarios next season, Hart is confident their plan is robust and that all the protagonists are fully on board.

“There is that medium to long term commitment,” he said. “The club has been funded every year for the last five years, there is a plan in place for the next 12 to 24 months and that is the cycle we tend to work on.

“Nick (Luckock) and I drive that with Sharon supporting us, working closely, and we are coming to the end of its point in this phase where there are two clear plans – League One and the Championship, and a funding strategy in place behind each one.

“They are there, on the shelf. When the football season is finished we will pull the required one down to put into action.

“All the shareholders are part of that plan, as is Ian Evatt, Chris Markham and Ludonautics, who we have worked closely with since they came in. There is a positive collaboration here.”


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