Bolton Wanderers F.C.
|Full name||Bolton Wanderers Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Trotters, The Wanderers, The Whites|
|Founded||1874(as Christ Church F.C.)|
|Ground||University of Bolton Stadium,|
|2017–18||Championship, 21st of 24|
Formed as Christ Church Football Club in 1874, it adopted its current name in 1877 and was a founder member of the Football League in 1888. Bolton have spent more seasons than any other club in the top flight without winning the title. They finished third in the First Division in 1891–92, 1920–21 and 1924–25.
Bolton won three FA Cups in the 1920s, and a fourth in 1958. The club spent a season in the Fourth Division in 1987-88 before regaining top-flight status in 1995 and qualifying for the UEFA Cup twice, reaching the last 32 in 2005–06 and the last 16 in 2007–08.
The club played at Burnden Park for 102 years from 1895. On 9 March 1946, 33 Bolton fans lost their lives in the Burnden Park disaster when a human crush occurred. In 1997, Bolton moved to the Reebok Stadium, renamed the Macron Stadium in 2014, and now known as the University of Bolton Stadium.
- 1 History
- 2 Colours and badge
- 3 Stadiums
- 4 Support
- 5 Ownership and finances
- 6 Players
- 7 Club officials
- 8 Honours
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early history (1877–1929)
The club was founded by the Reverend Joseph Farrall Wright, Perpetual curate of Christ Church Bolton, and Thomas Ogden, the schoolmaster at the adjacent church school, in 1874 as Christ Church F.C. It was initially run from the church of the same name on Deane Road, Bolton, on the site where the Innovation factory of the University of Bolton now stands. The club left the location following a dispute with the vicar, and changed its name to Bolton Wanderers in 1877. The name was chosen as the club initially had a lot of difficulty finding a permanent ground to play on, having used three venues in its first four years of existence.
Bolton were one of the 12 founder members of the Football League, which formed in 1888. At the time Lancashire was one of the strongest footballing regions in the country, with 6 of the 12 founder clubs coming from within the boundaries of the historic county of Lancashire. Having remained in the Football League since its formation, Bolton have spent more time in the top flight (Premier League/old First Division) than out of it.
In 1894 Bolton reached the final of the FA Cup for the first time, but lost 4–1 to Notts County at Goodison Park. A decade later they were runners-up a second time, losing 1–0 to local rivals Manchester City at Crystal Palace on 23 April 1904.
The period before and after the First World War was Bolton's most consistent period of top-flight success as measured by league finishes, with the club finishing outside the top 8 of the First Division on only two occasions between 1911–12 and 1927–28. In this period Bolton equalled their record finish of third twice, in 1920–21 and 1924–25, on the latter occasion missing out on the title by just 3 points (in an era of 2 points for a win).
On 28 April 1923, Bolton won their first major trophy in their third final, beating West Ham United 2–0 in the first ever Wembley FA Cup final. The match, famously known as The White Horse Final was played in front of over 127,000 supporters. Bolton's centre-forward, David Jack scored the first ever goal at Wembley Stadium. Driven by long-term players Joe Smith in attack, Ted Vizard and Billy Butler on the wings, and Jimmy Seddon in defence, they became the most successful cup side of the twenties, winning three times. Their second victory of the decade came in 1926, beating Manchester City 1–0 in front of over 91,000 spectators, and the third came in 1929 as Portsmouth were beaten 2–0 in front of nearly 93,000 fans.
In 1928 the club faced financial difficulties and so was forced to sell David Jack to Arsenal to raise funds. Despite the pressure to sell, the agreed fee of £10,890 was a world record, more than double the previous most expensive transfer of a player.
Top flight run and cup success (1929–1958)
From 1935 to 1964, Bolton enjoyed an uninterrupted stay in the top flight – regarded by fans as a golden era – spearheaded in the 1950s by Nat Lofthouse. The years of the Second World War saw most of the Wanderers' playing staff see action on the front, a rare occurrence within elite football, as top sportsmen were generally assigned to physical training assignments, away from enemy fire. However, 15 Bolton professionals, led by their captain Harry Goslin, volunteered for active service in 1939, and were enlisted in the 53rd Bolton Artillery regiment. By the end of the war, 32 of the 35 pre-war professionals saw action in the British forces. The sole fatality was Goslin, who had by then risen to the rank of Lieutenant and was killed by shrapnel on the Italian front shortly before Christmas 1943. 53rd Bolton Artillery took part in the Battle of Dunkirk and also served in the campaigns of Egypt, Iraq and Italy. Remarkably, a number of these soldiers managed to carry on playing the game in these theatres of war, taking on as 'British XI' various scratch teams assembled by, among others, King Farouk of Egypt in Cairo and Polish forces in Baghdad.
On 9 March 1946, the club's home was the scene of the Burnden Park disaster, which at the time was the worst tragedy in British football history. 33 Bolton Wanderers fans were crushed to death, and another 400 injured, in an FA Cup quarter-final second leg tie between Bolton and Stoke City. There was an estimated 67,000-strong crowd crammed in for the game, though other estimates vary widely, with a further 15,000 locked out as it became clear the stadium was full. The disaster led to Moelwyn Hughes's official report, which recommended more rigorous control of crowd sizes.
In 1953 Bolton played in one of the most famous FA Cup finals of all time – The Stanley Matthews Final of 1953. Bolton lost the game to Blackpool 4–3 after gaining a 3–1 lead. Blackpool were victorious thanks to the skills of Matthews and the goals of Stan Mortensen.
Bolton Wanderers have not won a major trophy since 1958, when two Lofthouse goals saw them overcome Manchester United in the FA Cup final in front of a 100,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium. The closest they have come to winning a major trophy since then is finishing runners-up in the League Cup, first in 1995 and again in 2004.
Few highs and many lows (1958–1995)
While Bolton finished 4th the following season, the next 20 years would prove to be a fallow period. The club suffered relegation to the Second Division in 1963–64, and were then relegated again to the Third Division for the first time in their history in 1970–71. This stay in the Third Division lasted just two years before the club were promoted as champions in 1972–73. Hopes were high at Burnden Park in May 1978 when Bolton sealed the Second Division title and gained promotion to the First Division. However, they only remained there for two seasons before being relegated.:36
Following relegation in 1980, Bolton signed former Manchester United European Cup winning striker Brian Kidd from Everton for £150,000:90 as they prepared to challenge for a quick return to the First Division. Kidd scored a hat-trick in his third game for Bolton, a 4–0 win over Newcastle United in the league, but the rest of the season was a struggle as Bolton finished close to the relegation places.:91 By the end of the 1981–82 season, Bolton were no closer to promotion and had lost several key players including Peter Reid and Neil Whatmore. The following season Bolton were relegated to the Third Division after losing 4–1 at Charlton Athletic on the final day.:92
Despite a new-look, much younger team and an 8–1 win over Walsall, Bolton's best league win for 50 years, Bolton failed to win promotion in the 1983–84 season, and would remain in the Third Division for another three seasons. In 1986 Nat Lofthouse was appointed President of the football club, a position he would hold until his death on 15 January 2011. At the end of the 1986–87 season, Bolton Wanderers suffered relegation to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history,:38 but won promotion back to the Third Division at the first attempt. The club won the Sherpa Van Trophy in 1989, defeating Torquay United 4–1. During the 1990–91 season, Bolton were pipped to the final automatic promotion place by Southend United and lost to Tranmere Rovers in the play-off final, but they failed to build on this and the following season saw the club finish 13th.:100
The early 1990s saw Bolton gain a giant-killing reputation in cup competitions. In 1993 Bolton beat FA Cup holders Liverpool 2–0 in a third round replay at Anfield, thanks to goals from super John McGinlay and Andy Walker. The club also defeated higher division opposition in the form of Wolverhampton Wanderers (2–1) that year before bowing out to Derby County. Bolton also secured promotion to the second tier for the first time since 1983. In 1994 Bolton again beat FA Cup holders, this time in the form of Arsenal, 3–1 after extra time in a fourth round replay, and went on to reach the quarter-finals, bowing out 1–0 at home to local rivals (and then Premiership) Oldham Athletic. Bolton also defeated top division opposition in the form of Everton (3–2) and Aston Villa (1–0) that year.
Return to the top flight, into Europe (1995–2008)
Bolton reached the Premiership in 1995 thanks to a 4–3 victory over Reading in the Division One play-off Final. Reading took a 2–0 lead before a Keith Branagan penalty save on the stroke of half time changed the course of the game. Bolton scored two late goals to take the game to extra time, scoring twice more before a late Reading consolation. The same year Bolton progressed to the League Cup Final, but were defeated 2–1 by Liverpool. Bolton were bottom for virtually all of the 1995–96 Premiership campaign and were relegated as they lost their penultimate game 1–0 to Southampton.:105
The club won promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt thanks to a season in which they achieved 98 league points and 100 goals in the process of securing the Division One championship, the first time since 1978 that they had finished top of any division. This season also marked the club's departure from Burnden Park to the Reebok Stadium, the last game at the stadium being a 4–1 win over Charlton Athletic.
Bolton were relegated on goal difference at the end of the 1997–98 Premiership campaign. They finished on the same number of points as Everton, whom they faced in the first competitive match at the newly built Reebok Stadium. The game finished 0–0, but a goal by Gerry Taggart for the Whites was mistakenly not given; the point swing in Bolton's favour would have kept them up. The following season they reached the 1999 Division One play-off Final but lost 2–0 to Watford.
In 2000 Bolton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Worthington Cup and play-offs but lost on penalties to Aston Villa, 4–0 on aggregate to Tranmere Rovers and 7–5 on aggregate to Ipswich Town respectively. In 2000–01 Bolton were promoted back to the Premiership after beating Preston North End 3–0 in the play-off final.
Bolton struggled in the following two seasons, but survived in the Premiership. The 2001–02 season began with a shock as they destroyed Leicester 5–0 at Filbert Street:94 to go top of the table. Despite a 2–1 win away at Manchester United, becoming the first team since the formation of the Premiership to come from behind and win a league game at Old Trafford, they went into a deep slump during the middle of the season and needed a Fredi Bobic hat-trick against Ipswich Town to survive. Despite losing the final three games, 16th place was secured. The 2002–03 season began with a poor start and, despite another win away at Manchester United, they were bottom until a 4–2 win against Leeds United at Elland Road. Despite suffering from a lack of consistency, Bolton achieved the results needed and secured survival in a final day 2–1 victory over Middlesbrough.
In 2005, Bolton finished sixth in the league, thus earning qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. The following season, they reached the last 32 but were eliminated by French team Marseille as they lost 2–1 on aggregate. Between 2003–04 and 2006–07, Bolton recorded consecutive top-eight finishes, a record of consistency bettered only by the big four of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.:470–7 Towards the end of the 06–07 season, long-serving manager Sam Allardyce departed the club, stating that he was taking a sabbatical; he would be hired shortly thereafter as manager of Newcastle United. Allardyce later cited a lack of ambition on the part of the club's board for his departure; he had sought financial backing in January 2007 to push the club towards Champions League qualification, which he had not received.
The 2007–08 season saw Bolton survive with a 16th-place finish, their safety being confirmed on the final day of the season, as they went on an unbeaten run for their final five games, as well as getting to the last sixteen of the UEFA Cup. Former assistant manager Sammy Lee replaced Allardyce as manager, but a poor start to the season saw him replaced by Gary Megson. During the European run, Bolton gained an unexpected draw at former European champions Bayern Munich as well as becoming the first British team to beat Red Star Belgrade in Belgrade. They also defeated Atlético Madrid on aggregate before being knocked out by Sporting Lisbon.
Recent history (2008– )
Bolton broke their record transfer fee with the signing of Johan Elmander from Toulouse on 27 June 2008, in a deal which cost the club a reported £8.2 million and saw Norwegian striker Daniel Braaten head in the opposite direction. Megson was replaced part-way through the 2009–2010 season by former Wanderers striker Owen Coyle, after Megson endured a difficult relationship with the fans. In the 2010–11 FA Cup, Bolton progressed all the way to the semi-finals, but were beaten 5–0 by Stoke at Wembley, with the match being described as "a massive anti-climax".
The following season began as the previous one had ended with just one win and six defeats, their worst start since the 1902–03 season when they were relegated. On 17 March 2012, manager Owen Coyle travelled to the London Chest Hospital with Fabrice Muamba who had suffered from a cardiac arrest whilst playing against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in a FA Cup match. Muamba stayed in a critical condition for several weeks and Coyle was widely praised for the manner in which he represented the club during the period. That 13 May, Bolton were relegated to the Championship by one point on the last day of the season after drawing 2–2 with Stoke City.
The Championship season started badly for Bolton, with only three wins in ten league matches and a second round exit from the League Cup following a loss at Crawley Town. As a result of poor performances leaving them in 16th place, Bolton sacked Coyle on 9 October 2012, replacing him with Crystal Palace's Dougie Freedman. They finished in 7th place, losing out on a play-off place to Leicester City on goal difference. The 2013–14 began with a trip to Turf Moor, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Football League. Freedman was fired after a torrid run of results at the beginning of the 2014–2015 season; he was replaced by former Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who promptly won his first game in charge 1–0 away at Birmingham.
In December 2015, Bolton, who were £172.9 million in debt, were handed a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs over unpaid taxes, and a transfer embargo for the following month's window. After ending a 17-game winless run, manager Neil Lennon, who had been investigated by the club due to allegations about his personal life, said that the club had "been through hell". On 18 January 2016, the club avoided an immediate winding-up order after their case was adjourned until 22 February to give it time to either close a deal with a potential buyer or raise sufficient short-term funds from asset sales. The club was said to owe HM Revenue and Customs £2.2m. On 9 April 2016, Bolton lost 4–1 away at Derby County to confirm their relegation to the third tier for the first time since 1993. Lennon was removed from his position for the final few games of the season, replaced by Academy manager Jimmy Phillips. The financial situation was somewhat improved as a takeover bid by Dean Holdsworth's Sports Shield was successful.
The 2016–2017 season provided some much-needed respite for beleaguered BWFC fans, as the club successfully achieved promotion from League One at the first attempt. New manager Phil Parkinson was instrumental in this, working despite an ongoing transfer embargo, emerging youth star Zach Clough being sold, and ownership disputes between Holdsworth and Ken Anderson.
The 2017-2018 season began with Bolton picking up 2 points from the first 11 games. Still working under a transfer embargo, it was looking like Bolton were not going to survive the Championship. On 14 September the board announced that the embargo was over. After the first 11 games, Bolton started picking up points throughout the season, reaching 6 points above the drop with 8 games remaining. Bolton then went on a run similar to the beginning of the season, securing 1 point from the following 7 games. The last game of the season against Nottingham Forest required Bolton to win, and Barnsley and Burton to drop points. Aaron Wilbraham scored in the 88th minute for Bolton, with other results also going their way, thus allowing them to survive relegation.
Bolton started the following season well, getting 11 points and sitting third in the table, however on September 10, 2018 it was reported that unless they paid off their unpaid loans of nearly £5 million to BlueMarble that former co-owner Dean Holdsworth had taken out to buy the club - with the debt falling to Ken Anderson after he bought Holdsworth's shares, that Bolton would go into administration, losing 12 points and going into a two year transfer embargo as a result. Bolton had a 10am deadline on September 12 to pay the loan, or else they would face administration. At the last minute Bolton came to an agreement to pay off the debt, avoiding administration and a points deduction. It was later revealed former owner and club president Edwin Davies loaned Anderson £5 million to pay the debt, four days before his death.
Colours and badge
Bolton Wanderers' home colours are white shirts with navy and red trim, traditionally worn with navy shorts and white socks. Their away kits have been varied over the years, with navy kits and yellow kits among the most popular and common. Bolton did not always wear the white kit they do today; in 1884 they wore white with red spots, leading to the club's original nickname of "The Spots". The traditional navy blue shorts were dispensed with in 2003, in favour of an all-white strip, but they returned in 2008. The club had previously experimented with an all-white kit in the 1970s.
The Bolton Wanderers club badge consists of the initials of the club in the shape of a ball, with a red scroll and Lancashire rose underneath. The current badge is a reimagining of one designed in 1975; this was replaced in 2001 by a badge which retained the recognisable initials but controversially exchanged the scroll and rose for blue and red ribbons. The re-design has been welcomed by fans who saw the ribbons as a poor choice. The original club badge was the town crest of Bolton, a key feature of which was the Elephant and Castle motif with the town motto – Supera Moras. This feature has been reincorporated into more recent club shirts.
The club's nickname of "The Trotters" has several claimed derivations; that it is simply a variation on "Wanderers", that it is an old local term for a practical joker, or that one of the grounds used before the club settled at Pikes Lane resided next to a piggery, causing players to have to "trot" through the pig pens to retrieve the ball if it went over the fence.
When the club was first founded, Christ Church had a nomadic existence, playing at a number of locations in the area. The club, which had by then been renamed Bolton Wanderers, started playing regularly at Pike's Lane in 1881.:48 Spending £150 on pitch improvements, season tickets cost a guinea. They played here for fourteen years until the tenancy expired and they moved to Burnden Park.
Situated in the Burnden area of Bolton, approximately one mile from the centre of the town, the ground served as the home of the town's football team for 102 years. In its heyday, Burnden Park could hold up to 70,000 supporters but this figure was dramatically reduced during the final 20 years of its life. A section of The Embankment was sold off in 1986 to make way for a new Normid superstore. At this time, Bolton were in a dire position financially and were struggling in the Football League Third Division, so there was a low demand for tickets and the loss of part of the ground gave the Bolton directors good value for money.:59
By 1992 the club's directors had decided that it would be difficult to convert Burnden Park into an all-seater stadium for a club of Bolton's ambition, as the Taylor Report required all first- and second-tier clubs to do.:62 A decision was made to build an out of town stadium in the suburb of Horwich, with the eventual location chosen 5 miles due west of the town centre. The stadium opened in August 1997, as a modern, all-seater stadium with a capacity of around 29,000. In recognition of the club's former ground the stadium stands on "Burnden Way". It has four stands, though the lower tier seating is one continuous bowl. It was originally known as the Reebok Stadium after long-time team sponsor, Reebok. This was initially unpopular with many fans, as it was considered impersonal, and that too much emphasis was being placed on financial considerations. This opposition considerably lessened since the stadium was built. In April 2014, the stadium was renamed as part of a four-year deal with new sponsors Macron sportswear. When this deal came to an end in August 2018 the stadium was again renamed, this time as the University of Bolton Stadium.
In 2014 the club established Bolton Wanderers Free School at the stadium, a sixth form offering sports and related courses for 16 to 19-year-olds. However, this was later closed in 2017 due to low pupil numbers which deemed it 'not financially viable'.
Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Association (BWSA) is the official supporters' association of Bolton Wanderers Football Club. The Supporters' Association was formed in 1992, on the initiative of a fan, Peter Entwistle. Later that year the Directors of the football club, satisfied that the Association had proven itself to be organised and responsible, officially recognised Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Association as the club's supporters' group.
In 1997, shortly after the move from Burnden Park to the Reebok Stadium, the BWSA accepted the invitation from the football club to hold its monthly meetings at the new stadium. The University of Bolton Stadium has continued to be their venue ever since. In the year 2000, the Association expanded significantly when its invitation to affiliate was accepted by Bolton Wanderers supporters groups in other parts of Britain, and also by groups around the world. All of these foreign groups have come on board to become independent, but integral, parts of the official Bolton Wanderers supporters' family. Requests for affiliated status continue to be received regularly from other places around the world where Wanderers fans find themselves gather together.
Bolton's main rivals historically have been with near neighbours Bury, though this has lessened since the Second World War as the two clubs have rarely been in the same league. The club also has a rivalry with Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers, as the two sides are separated by just fifteen miles and are both founder members of the Football League, as are Preston North End. More recently, Bolton have developed an enmity with Wigan Athletic, whose fans generally regard Bolton as their main rivals. Bolton fans maintain a mutual dislike with the fans of Tranmere Rovers, Burnley, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ownership and finances
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|1981–1982||Bolton Evening News|
University of Bolton
|2016–2017||Spin and Win|
|2018-||University of Bolton Stadium|
The holding company of Bolton Wanderers F.C. is Burnden Leisure plc, which is a private company limited by shares. Burnden Leisure was previously a public company traded on the AIM stock exchange until its voluntary delisting in May 2003 following Eddie Davies's takeover. The club itself is 100% owned by Burnden Leisure, with Sports Shield Consortium leader holding 94.5% of issued shares in Burnden Leisure since the takeover from Eddie Davies in 2016. The remaining stakes are held by over 6,000 small shareholders with less than 0.1% holding each.
Since exiting the Premier League, Eddie Davies, the then owner of the club revoked his investment into the club. This led to published debts of almost £200m and bought the club very close to being wound up over unpaid tax bills owed to HMRC. As a gesture of his goodwill and as incentive to sell the club, Davies promised to wipe over £125m of debt owed to him when the club was sold, which wiped a significant proportion of debt the club owed.
Bolton Wanderers had a long-established partnership with sporting goods firm Reebok, which was formed in the town. Between 1997 and 2009 this partnership encompassed shirt sponsorship, kit manufacture and stadium naming rights. The combined shirt sponsorship (1990–2009) and kit manufacture (1993–2012) deals covering 22 years represent the longest kit partnership in English football history. The stadium's naming rights were held by Reebok since its opening in 1997 and was due to run until the end of the 2015–16 season. Bolton's kit manufacturer from the 2014–15 season changed to Italian sportswear brand Macron who also manufacture kits for clubs including Aston Villa, Lazio and Napoli. The stadium was also re-branded as the Macron Stadium from July 2014 in an agreement that lasted four years.
- As of 9 October 2018.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Reserves and Academy squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
In 2005, a list of "50 Wanderers Legends" was compiled by the club as the result of a fan survey: "Thousands of supporters ... nominated their favourites with modern day heroes giving the old-timers a run for their money".
|Majority Shareholder||Inner Circle Club|
|Assistant Manager||Steve Parkin|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Lee Butler|
|U-23 Coach||David Lee|
|U-18 Coach||Nicky Spooner|
|Chief Scout||Tim Breacker|
|Head Physiotherapist||Matt Barrass|
|Sports Rehab Therapist||Ali Gibb|
|First Team Sports Scientist||Kristian Aldred|
|Sports Therapist||Catherine Beattie|
|Kit & Equipment Manager||Paul Huddy|
|Kit & Equipment Manager||Michael Hawke|
|Head Groundsman||Chris Simm|
- Second Division/Championship
- Third Division/League One
- Fourth Division/League Two
- Third: 1987–88
Overall League Performance
- Division 1/Premier League: 1888–1899, 1900–1903, 1905–1908, 1909–1910, 1911–1933, 1935–1964, 1978–1980, 1995–1996, 1997–1998, 2001–2012 (73 seasons)
- Division 2/Championship: 1899–1900, 1903–1905, 1908–1909, 1910–1911, 1933–1935, 1964–1971, 1973–1978, 1980–1983, 1993–1995, 1996–1997, 1998–2001, 2012–2016 (30 seasons)
- Division 3/League 1: 1971–1973, 1983–1987, 1988–1993, 2016–17 (12 seasons)
- Division 4/League 2: 1987–1988 (1 season)
- FA Cup
- Football League Cup
- FA Charity Shield
- Winners: 1958
- Football League Trophy
- Champions: 1989
- Runners-up: 1986
- Reserves and Others
- Football League War Cup Winners (1) – 1945
- Premier League Asia Trophy Winners (1) – 2005
- Peace Cup Runners up (1) – 2007
- Carlsberg Cup Winners (1) – 2010
- Lancashire Senior Cup Winners (12) – 1886, 1891, 1912, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1932, 1934, 1939 (shared with Preston North End), 1948, 1989, 1991
- Central League Champions – 1955, 1995
- Premier Reserve League North Champions – 2007
- Manchester Senior Cup 1922, 1963, 2015
- Professional Development League North, Champions - 2018
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