WIGAN Athletic will have to get used to being the prize scalp in the Championship next term.
That’s according to chief executive Jonathan Jackson, who acknowledges Latics will have to quickly adapt from being divisional small fry to a big catch following relegation from the Premier League.
“We know that teams will be well up for it when they play us next season, and we will have to be at it to cope,” Jackson told the Evening Post.
“I was speaking to one of my counterparts in the Championship, and he told me he was really looking forward to the visit of Wigan Athletic because it was one of the glamour games of the season.
“I told him it was probably the first time that Wigan Athletic have ever been described as being a glamour team! He explained it was because we’d been in the Premier League for eight years, we were the FA Cup holders and we would be playing in Europe next season.
“And I suppose, if you take a step back, we probably are one of the big teams in that league this year.
“That is something we’ll have to live up to, and the teams we will be playing will raise their game accordingly.
“But we are used to that, going back to the FA Cup run last season when we played Bournemouth, Macclesfield, Huddersfield and Millwall, and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Jackson was speaking after the fixtures for 2013/4 were released, with Latics opening their programme with back-to-back trips to Barnsley and Bournemouth, either side of the Community Shield on August 11.
“We’ve had a very busy and a very historic two months,” Jackson acknowledged. “We’ve got an exciting new chapter about to happen, and with the new fixtures out we can see what that challenge is.
“There are some fantastic games in prospect next season, and looking down the fixture list I bet the fans are excited about the volume and the variety of games ahead.
“We could be in Valencia on Thursday in the Europa League and down at Yeovil the following Sunday!”
Particularly eye-catching is the end to the campaign, with the last three matches seeing Latics facing north-west neighbours Burnley, Blackpool and Blackburn.
“It’s a great end to the season – three local derbies to finish the campaign and hopefully secure our place back in the Premier League,” Jackson added.
“Derby games are always among the highlights of every season, and one of the good things about being in the Championship is that there are so many of them.”
Jackson is also totally convinced Owen Coyle is the right man to take Latics back up at the first attempt.
“It was an unsettling time when Roberto left us and we were without a manager,” he recognised.
“It put us in limbo for a period, not able to properly prepare for the new season.
“But we have the right man in charge now. From all the people we saw, he was absolutely the right man for us and he has already given us a real lift. He’s such a positive man, he’s a bundle of energy and we’re all raring to go.”