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Survival Hopes Rest On Huge Lancashire Derby

By Rob
Tuesday 20th December 2011
Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers lock horns at Ewood Park tonight, with both clubs fully aware only the maximum 3 points will do.

Time is quickly running out for both Owen Coyle and the much under-pressure Steve Kean, with fans of both teams increasingly losing patience with their managers' team selections and their players' lack of character. Bolton in particular look doomed at present, painfully highlighted by their inept display at Fulham over the weekend. The Trotters lack any creativity, goal threat and, just to compound the situation, they can't defend. Not ideal. Rovers however look the more likely to survive. They have players of real quality including Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina who on their day have the ability to be match winners, but the side understandably seems totally devoid of confidence.

Both teams are now considered Premier League regulars, despite having previously been renowned as yo-yo sides up, particularly in Bolton's case, but both have now been in the top flight for 11 straight seasons. The likelihood is that one, if not both, of these famous clubs now face the looming threat of being plunged into the highly competitive Championship. And the costs of such a relegation are potentially crippling for both teams.

Both Bolton and Blackburn have recently announced, or had it rumoured, that they are in huge amounts of debt. Despite the infamous Venky's takeover of Rovers last year, it was recently estimated the club faces a real battle to stay afloat due to a supposed 'blackhole' in their finances and £21 million of debt owed to Barclays Bank, while The Trotters' situation is seemingly much more severe.

It's believed Bolton have still yet to pay off the rent on the Reebok Stadium, due in part to the fact that their previous home ground, Burnden Park, failed to sell. The club's debt has escalated to in excess of £110 million having announced losses of £26.1 million last year - a figure that for any club other than the likes of Manchester United has dire consequences - and is increasingly reliant on owner Eddie Davies to keep pumping money into the club to keep it above water. The fact that prized asset Gary Cahill didn't move on for the rumoured £15-£20 million in the summer and will either leave for less than half that in January or even on a free next summer, doesn't help the situation.

Relegation from the Premier League would be a complete disaster for these two Lancashire rivals. Not only for the fact they'd no longer be playing alongside England's elite for the first time in 11 years, but also financially. This would surely see both sides follow in the fate of other 'big teams' to fall into the Championship never (yet)to  return, including the likes of Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday.

Tonight's clash at Ewood Park is the epitome of the fabled six-pointer. Bolton lose and they face the possibility of being 8 points adrift of the relegation zone going into Christmas. Blackburn lose and they find themselves in the unenviable position of propping up the rest of the league as we head into the festive season, safe in the knowledge only one team has ever recovered from such a position to avoid being relegated during the Premier League era.

The huge amount at stake in this match should make for a tense, gripping, nail-biting - but probably not entertaining - battle. Come on you Whites!
Rob

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