Bolton urge fans to 'protest peacefully' ahead of tonight's clash with West Brom
Bolton Wanderers are a club in crisis, embroiled in a civil war while desperately trying to fight off relegation.
Not only has unpopular owner Ken Anderson fallen out with supporters, he has banned local journalists from the ground, and entered into a public spat with another football club chairman.
Wages have been paid late and a number of winding up petitions have been lodged against the club, which has lurched from one financial problem to another under Anderson’s reign.
A series of strange and bullish late-night statements from Anderson quoting Winston Churchill and poet John Lydgate have not been well received by a disillusioned fanbase who now plan to protest.
The supporters have chosen this game to act, because it is being televised and should therefore have the maximum impact.
Bolton have responded, and issued a statement in the build-up to the game warning fans to protest peacefully and not disrupt play.
They have threatened those who overstep the mark with court appearances and banning orders, and supporters from both sides can expect ‘additional searches’ on entrance to the ground.
While all this rumbles on in the background, manager Phil Parkinson is attempting to pull off a miracle and keep the Wanderers up.
After picking up 10 points from their first four games, Bolton have won just two of their last 23 league fixtures. They’ve won just one of their last 17.
“I can’t say it helps,” admitted Parkinson, ahead of the Albion game. “Things have happened where the chairman wants to respond and get his side of the story out there, which he’s obviously entitled to do that as he’s the owner of the club.
“But I just think once the dust has settled on this particular episode and we hopefully get it resolved with the Football League, we need a clear run from now to the end of the season.
“We don’t want to be in the papers having publicity for the wrong reasons.
“We are going to need all our energy to stay in this division. I think it’s clear to everybody the challenge that lies ahead of us and we need everybody – rather than focusing on other things – focusing on the football and what we have got to do.”
To make matters worse, Bolton are sweating on the fitness of first-choice keeper Ben Alnwick, who has a hip problem.
However, Wanderers signed goalkeper Remi Matthews on an 18-month contract last Friday after a registration embargo was lifted, allowing them to complete the deal.
“We are very pleased that Remi has completed his move,” said Parkinson. “He’s a young keeper who brings real quality for the number one shirt and it’s great to have him back up here.”