Latics guest column - Dave Whelan

Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan

It’s not impossible that Wigan Athletic will retain our Championship status at the end of the season.

But I have to say it is looking more and more improbable.

I desperately hope we don’t go down – and we will fight to the death until it is mathematically impossible.

But I have to admit it is looking like we could go down again.

All I can say is that if the worst does happen, I can promise there would be as much fight as there’s ever been to get back up into the Championship.

My one ambition is to see this club get back in to the Premier League.

We all enjoyed being up there – the whole club, the whole town.

And we’d dearly love to be back in there again before too long.

It’s two years since I stepped down as chairman to allow my grandson, David, to take over.

It’s been very, very difficult for me not to interfere.

But that is the best way to do it.

Young David has got to get on with it now, and I’ve left him to get on with it.

At my age, I cannot read football like I used to read football – and I realise that.

There’s no use thinking I can, because I can’t.

I watch football nowadays, and I sometimes forget some of the players’ names.

The memory’s not quite as sharp as it was, age does affect you – no question about that.

I’ve stepped down, I’ve stepped back, and I’ve not interfered one little bit all season.

All I can do is wish David good luck and wish the boys good luck.

If David wants any help, I’m always here, and if I can help, obviously I will do it.

But age is age, and you have to accept and respect the age you are.

I still love and I still enjoy the game as much as I ever have.

But I cannot get involved at my age.

I’m too old for that now.

This season has been very, very disappointing, I have to say.

We appointed the lad from Man United (Warren Joyce), who looked like he had great promise, and could deliver great things.

But it didn’t come about unfortunately, and David had to make the change.

He’s taken over in a difficult situation, where we’ve had a run of managers where it’s not been 100 per cent satisfactory – especially in terms of results.

I think he’s enjoying it, though, even when the team’s been losing.

At present we’re still looking (for a permanent manager). And I’m fully aware that getting the right manager is not an easy job.

It’s a very difficult task.

There’s a big element of skill, but there’s also an element of luck about it.

But in my mind, David is doing a decent job.

He’s part and parcel of Wigan Athletic now, he’s got the bug.

Him and Jonathan (Jackson) are a good team.

We have to acknowledge Wigan is a rugby town as well as being a football town, and we do operate very closely with the Warriors.

We have a very, very good relationship with Ian Lenagan – there is a very, very good relationship between Wigan Athletic and Wigan rugby.

It’s always going to be difficult when you’ve got football and rugby league being played on the pitch for 12 months of the year.

It doesn’t get much rest – a window of four weeks during the summer – which is not really enough.

I actually think it’s stood up very well to the usage in recent years.

I still think Wigan rugby now could be more generous in what they do, and how they help to pay for the running of the stadium – especially the pitch.

I am in talks with Ian Lenagan right now over that very thing.

More money has got to be spent on the ground and on the playing field. It’s being subsidised by me a hell of a lot.

They obviously don’t play as many games on it as Wigan Athletic.

But the stadium is in constant use, and it’s very difficult to keep the pitch up to the level we want it at. It’s essential we keep that to the highest level.

All I am saying is Wigan rugby have to contribute a bit more financially to the upkeep of the stadium.

Both Ian Lenagan and I are committed to Wigan.

We do everything we can do for Wigan Athletic and Wigan rugby.

Dave Whelan was speaking to Paul Kendrick