Dave Whelan statue unveiling coincides with 80th birthday

The ground is being prepared and a plinth is in place, ready for the Dave Whelan statue, at the front of DW Stadium
The ground is being prepared and a plinth is in place, ready for the Dave Whelan statue, at the front of DW Stadium

A bronze statue of Wigan Athletic President Dave Whelan will be unveiled on his 80th birthday next week, the club has said.

Work is already under way outside the DW Stadium to install a plinth for the one-and-a-half times life size likeness of the former chairman.

Dave Whelan

Dave Whelan

An open invitation has been issued by Latics to all residents wishing to attend the unveiling ceremony at 2pm next Thursday.

The seven foot statue has been crafted by renowned sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn and will stand outside the entrance to the stadium.

Current chairman, Mr Whelan’s grandson David Sharpe, said his family will see the statue for the first time on the day.

He said: “No one has seen the finished sculpture yet so we’re all really excited to see it in place outside the stadium.

No one has seen the finished sculpture yet so we’re all really excited to see it in place outside the stadium

David Sharpe

“We feel it will be a great tribute to him and the legacy which he has created for the town of Wigan and it would be fantastic to see as many supporters as possible down on the day to share what’s going to be a really special moment.”

Plans to immortalise Mr Whelan outside the stadium he played such a key role to create were announced last year along with the club naming him as Life President.

He stepped down as chairman in 2015, handing over the reins to his grandson.

Mr Sharpe said at the time: “My grandfather transformed the club forever and I know that every Wigan Athletic supporter appreciates the things he has done for us and will support both of these ideas.

“What my grandfather achieved at Wigan Athletic is beyond the dreams of anyone connected with the club and I feel it is fitting to honour those achievements.”

Mr Whelan, 79, purchased Wigan Athletic in 1995 with the side languishing at the bottom of the old fourth division.

He oversaw the club’s rise to eight years of Premiership football and the historic FA Cup win in 2013.

The statue will mirror a pose from that day, with Mr Whelan holding the FA Cup aloft.

Sculptor and film prop maker Sean Hedges-Quinn is no stranger to being tasked with creating statues of big names from the world of football having been commissioned to form likenesses of England managers Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey plus Bolton and England legend Nat Lofthouse.

The grand unveiling is a free event open to the general public. Supporters are urged to arrive by 1.30pm, with speeches and a live brass band before the actual unveiling by Mr Whelan himself takes place around 2pm.