Matt Scott: Bolton and the salutary tale of how to turn gold into lead

"I am the lord of the philosopher's stone," Mammon, The Alchemist, Ben Johnson

Four hundred years after those fictitious words were first uttered on a London stage, alchemy, the fabled process of turning base metals into gold, is of course just as much hocus-pocus as it was then. Even so, it does not seem to have stopped football clubs trying to turn leaden-footed footballers into the latest golden generation. Their alchemic additive is of cash, since the relative amount of wages paid to first-team players closely correlates with League finishing positions.