Burnley

Know Your Chairman – Phil Gartside

During the 11 years that Phil Gartside has been at the helm, Bolton Wanderers have consolidated their position in the Premiership and reached the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

Whilst this feat as earned him the admiration of many of his contemporaries at football clubs across the land, his radical proposals to overhaul the structure of the top flight have drawn howls of derision from others.

Almost a year ago, Gartside proposed to his fellow Premier League chairmen a plan to split the Premiership into two divisions of 18 teams whilst also allowing the Scottish Old Firm to join in on the action. Unsurprisingly, it completely divided opinion throughout the football world with its proponents heralding the scheme as a remarkable innovation and its detractors branding it as merely a cynical attempt to protect the incomes of clubs like Bolton by removing the prospect of relegation to the Football League.

In typically bullish fashion, Gartside defended himself and his proposal by employing the argument that the multi-million pound pot of television revenue would be split more fairly across 36 clubs rather than the present 20.

It was to no avail, however, and his plan was shot down in flames by the nation’s richest clubs who were understandably cool on the prospect of seeing their incomes drop and the English and Scottish FAs who thought it would strengthen the feeling amongst other FIFA members that the United Kingdom should be a single entity in footballing matters.

The controversial Gartside has also caused consternation in some quarters by calling for a salary cap on players and tighter regulation on takeovers from foreign tycoons. It is tempting to think that the notion of a wage cap is purely a reaction to his club being hopelessly outspent on securing the most talented players by the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea whilst he fears that decisions on the future structure of the top division will start to be made by foreign owners.

Some brand him a control freak, others heap criticism on his vision to protect Bolton’s lucrative place in the Premiership at the expense of others whilst fans of the Trotters will surely applaud the man for putting the interests of his club at the very heart of everything he does. Is that not after all a Chairman’s job?

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