Where Burnley are Going Right, And Bolton Are Going Wrong

The contrast was stark, like a particularly uncompetitive episode of the BBC’s Bargain Hunt (you can tell I don’t have a proper day job), magnified a million times. Bolton Wanderers’ parent company Burnden Leisure Plc lost £35.4m, partly because they picked up manager Owen Coyle. Burnley Football Club made record profits of £14.4m, despite losing manager Owen Coyle. On-field experiences didn’t contrast so greatly. But the consequence of Burnley’s 18th place to Bolton’s 14th widened the financial gap to the proverbial Grand Canyon. But that’s for future accounts to reflect. For now, Burnley and Bolton seem like football finance good and evil – the difference being £50m at today’s exchange rates. Burnley have been generally lauded for their fiscal responsibility in recent years. And it is generally accepted that, as a result, they will be able to cope with relegation rather better than, say, Hull City, who were relegated with them last spring. Bolton, meanwhile, could be done for if they ever go down, with their heavy reliance on the “benefactor model” of football business and the “blow the broadcast rights money on players’ wages model” of football business – both popular models in the modern game. So, what did Burnley do right? And what did Bolton do wrong? Well, Burnley beat Sheffield United 1-0 in the 2008/2009 Football League Championship play-off final, which qualified them for a Premier...

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