A CONTRITE Dave Whelan last night strenuously denied he was either anti-Semitic or racist, and issued a heartfelt apology for any recent comments ‘that may have caused offence’.
The fall-out from Whelan’s decision to make Malky Mackay Wigan Athletic’s new manager is clearly showing no sign of abating - the Football Association confirming it will investigate Whelan’s comments.
An interview Whelan gave yesterday to the Guardian newspaper caused uproar, with him appearing to condone the kind of discriminatory language allegedly used in texts sent by Mackay during his time in charge of Cardiff that remain the subject of an FA investigation.
Whelan said: “The Jews don’t like losing money. Nobody likes losing money.
“Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do? I think they are very shrewd people.”
Asked if he himself believed that, he added: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”
The newspaper also reports Whelan as saying he didn’t think another message sent by Mackay was offensive, which allegedly referred to there being “enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go round”, when the Scot signed the South Korea international Kim Bo-kyung for the Welsh club.
Whelan also sparked controversy by saying that a word used by Mackay, commonly used to refer to Chinese people, was acceptable.
The 77-year-old was immediately condemned by representatives of the Jewish and Chinese communities, with social media nearly sent into meltdown.
But the Latics chief was quick to front up to clarify his comments and defend his character.
“Firstly, if I’ve said anything that upsets anybody, especially Jewish people, then I apologise,” he told the Evening Post.
“I’ve got thousands of Jewish friends all over the world and I would never say anything that would insult them.
“I did admit that Jewish people are hungry for money. But I also said that English people are hungry for money as well, because we work hard for it.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that.
“But if anyone has taken offence then I apologise.
“I also have a load of Chinese friends, and there was no intention to insult their people or nation as well.
“Again, if anyone has taken offence for that, I apologise for that as well.
“When you’re doing 50 interviews, one after the other, you’re bound to say one or two little things wrong.
“I hope people don’t take offence at that.”
Whelan had earlier been quoted as saying he’d been told that “nothing would come” of the FA’s ongoing investigation into Mackay’s conduct during his time with Cardiff.
That led the FA to issue a statement insisting that no decision had yet been made.
“The FA have not told us anything, only that the matter is under investigation,” explained Whelan.
“I think the FA will fine him, and he deserves to be fined. But it’s not the end of the world.”
Latics had suffered another bloody nose around tea-time when one of the club’s shirt sponsors, Premier Range, elected ‘with great regret’ to withdraw their support with immediate effect.
“Unfortunately, their recent appointment of Malky Mackay has put us in a position that we find untenable,” read a statement.
“The texts Mr Mackay has admitted to sending are wholly unacceptable - and the thoughts expressed within them are a shocking reminder of a past we thought football had left behind.
“A team that would employ a man who expresses views such these is not the kind of team Premier Range wish to deal with.”
Whelan responded: “It is their decision, and it is a free world. But I am sad about that.
“I think they have taken the wrong decision, I think they could have given us until the end of the season.
“They are saying that what he did was wrong. He accepts that and has apologised.
“What do they want to do? Keep him out of football forever? That’s so wrong to take that attitude.
“I ask the whole of Wigan to accept his apology, and give him a chance.”
Meanwhile, former Wigan boss and current Hull manager Steve Bruce has leapt to the defence of Whelan.
“Maybe sitting on the fence might be the easiest thing to do but I’ve worked under Dave Whelan twice - I know him very, very well,” said Bruce.
“There’s no racism in him at all. Sometimes words can be said which can be misplaced, they can be out there in the public domain, but certainly when I’ve worked with him there’s been no sign of racism.
“He is without question one of the best chairmen I’ve worked for. What you see is what you get.”