WITH Bolton Wanderers facing the threat of administration, and a 12 point penalty, Sean Hayes assesses how it has affected other clubs in the past and if there is still hope for the former Premier League side.

Bolton Wanderers’ 11-year stay in the Premier League was brought to an end on Sunday 13th May 2012, as they were held to a 2-all draw by Stoke at the Britannia. The agony of relegation was compounded by Sergio Aguero’s late winner at the Etihad, yes ‘that’ goal, as Manchester City’s 3-2 win over QPR meant a win for Owen Coyle’s men would have rescued their top flight status.

In that time in the Premier League they qualified for the UEFA Cup on two separate occasions, reaching the round of 16 in 2008 before being edged by Sporting Club 2-1 over two legs. They also reached the 2004 Carling Cup Final, only to be beaten on penalties by Middleborough.

Seven years on from their most successful European campaign the Wanderers are now on the brink of administration, as they are expecting a winding-up order and are in need of £15million to finish the current season.

So, if the north-west club are to fall into administration are they destined for the express train down the football leagues, or is there hope that Championship strugglers can return to former glories?

Premier Examples

The most obvious case for inspiration is current Premier League club Bournemouth, who in 2008 were relegated to League Two following a 10 point deduction. The following season they were forced to start the campaign on -17 points and defied the odds, with Eddie Howe saving the club from back-to-back relegations.

In the 2009/10 season Howe then led the club back to League One, before leaving to take a job as Burnley head coach. He soon returned to guide the Cherries to another promotion in 2013, and last season led them to the Premier League for the first time in their history as champions.

After being on the brink almost eight years ago they are now competing against the best sides in the country, with Glenn Murray’s header at Stamford Bridge on Saturday sealing a famous win over the current champions Chelsea.

Crystal Palace have also overcome adversity to reach the top tier, as they were deducted 10 points in 2010 to turn their promotion push into a relegation scrap. The club owed a reported £30million in debts and with Neil Warnock leaving a month later, the fans began to worry.

Paul Hart took over and it went down to the final game of the season, as they avoided defeat in a tense 2-all draw away to Sheffield Wednesday to stay in the Championship and send their opponents down.

Since Steve Parish and Martin Long fronted a successful bid to take over Palace, a Kevin Phillips’ penalty at Wembley against Watford brought Premier League football back to Selhurst Park. Last season Alan Pardew led the club to their highest ever league position of tenth and they currently sit sixth in this year’s competition, following a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on Monday.

From Europe to Wind-up

It isn’t all good news for clubs who enter administration though, as Portsmouth proved when they slipped from the Premier League to League Two. It has been a huge fall from grace since they lifted the FA Cup in 2008, thanks to Kanu’s goal in a 1-0 win over Wembley. They went on to compete in the UEFA Cup the season after, and despite failing to progress from the group stage their 2-2 draw at home to AC Milan will be fondly remembered. They led 2-0 until Ronaldinho and Filippo Inzaghi denied Pompey a shock win with their late showing.

After heavily investing in their playing squad things turned sour, as they were relegated from the Premier League following a nine point deduction due to administration. They went under again in February of 2012, losing 10 points this time and slipping to League One, before another 10 point deduction condemned the former FA Cup champions to the fourth tier.

Since the Pompey Supporter’s Trust took over during their relegation from League One the club has improved massively, announcing they were officially debt free in 2014. They currently sit fifth in League Two and look set to mount a promotion challenge, however it is a long way back to European nights with Italian giants.

Leeds United have experienced a similar fall themselves, going from challenging for top flight titles to struggling to gain promotion from League One. In 2001 the Yorkshire club had their most successful Champions League campaign as they found a way past Barcelona, AC Milan and Real Madrid in two tough group stages. They reached the semi-final but were left heartbroken as Valencia brushed aside David O’Leary’s side 3-0.

After being relegated from the Premier League in the 2003/04 campaign the club’s demise began, as they were relegated from the Championship for the first time in their history following a 10 point deduction in 2007. They started the subsequent season on -15 points due to a further sanction from the Football League but still managed to finish in the play-offs, losing to Doncaster in the final. Another play-off disappointment came before they regained Championship status with a second placed finish in 2010.

Since their return to the second tier they have continued to be under financial difficulty, and the purchase of the club by Massimo Cellino has only made matters worse. The controversial figure is looking to sell the club after picking up a second life-time ban from the Football League, and has sacked five managers in his 18 month reign.

By Sean Hayes
@SHayesNBL

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