DAVE Whelan insists Wigan Athletic are heading in the right direction off the field despite their worrying on-field predicament.
Latics find themselves propping up the Premier League with only nine matches remaining of the campaign.
It promises to be an exciting climax to Wigan’s sixth successive season in the top flight – five longer than most experts predicted back in 2005.
Wigan’s longevity in the Premier League is in no small part thanks to their chairman, who bankrolled their ascent through the divisions and has continued to pump money in to keep them among the big boys.
More recently, Whelan has pursued a policy of bringing in mostly young players with huge potential – like James McCarthy, Victor Moses and Franco di Santo – while offloading top-earners like Titus Bramble, Mario Melchiot and Paul Scharner.
The long-term aim is for the club to eventually become self-sufficient, while remaining competitive on the pitch in the short-term.
Wigan’s latest financial results showed a loss of £4million – one of the lowest in the Premier League –which has continued the trend towards break-even.
And Whelan admits the need to balancing the books is something that cannot be underestimated.
“We have to keep on reducing our debt,” Whelan told the Evening Post.
“We are Wigan Athletic, we’ve come from the fourth division, and we’re the smallest club in the Premier League.
“We have a great fanbase that we’ve been building and building.
“The crowds haven’t been as good this year as last, but times are tough, we know that.
“We’ve still got a very loyal and solid fanbase, and the fans will appreciate the team as long as they are continuing to fight for the shirt.
“We are a small club – but we’re a happy club.”
Critics have been queueing up to stick the knife in since Latics slipped to the bottom of the pile.
By now, though, that’s all water off a duck’s back to Whelan.
“When we won promotion, we were given one season to stay up,” he added.
“We’ve been in the Premier League for six seasons now, and we’re still not down.
“And I can promise you that there is not one man at the club who believes we are going down.
“Even if the worst happened and we did go down, the determination would be doubled to come straight back up again.”