DAVE Whelan has resigned his position as chairman of Wigan Athletic.
Mr Whelan’s grandson David Sharpe will be formally elected as new Chairman of Wigan Athletic by the Board of Directors at a date to be confirmed, and will be assisted in the running of the club by chief executive Jonathan Jackson.
The Whelan family will remain as majority shareholders but Mr Whelan himself will no longer be a part of the day-to-day operations at the club.
In a statement, Mr Whelan said: “The time has now come to hand over the reins. I am approaching 80 years old and spend an increasingly long time abroad and cannot make it to games. It is a decision I have been mulling over for some years and I believe David is now ready.
“Contrary to some suggestions, there are no plans to sell the club, which will remain in family hands and I have every confidence that David, along with chief executive Jonathan Jackson, will lead us forwards with wisdom.
“In making this announcement, I would like to say huge thank you to the board of directors, all the staff at the club, and of course the wonderful supporters of Wigan Athletic, who have helped make the journey over the past 20 years such an exciting and memorable one.”
Since Dave Whelan first purchased Wigan Athletic in February 1995, the club has grown out of recognition. It sat at the bottom of the old 4th Division when he first arrived, playing in front of crowds of 1,500 at Springfield Park.
Winning Football League Division 3 in 1997 (the equivalent of League Two today) was the first major stepping stone, followed in 2003 – having narrowly missed out in the play-offs for three successive seasons between 1999 and 2001 – with the Division 2 title (now League One).
Promotion to the Barclays Premiership was achieved in 2005, where the club spent an amazing eight years, an era which included unforgettable victories against the very biggest names in England.
The club reached the outstanding pinnacle of winning the FA Cup in 2013, and qualifying for the Europa League group stages, a personal wound healed for Mr Whelan after his career as a top flight footballer was effectively brought to an end in the 1960 FA Cup Final, when he broke his leg playing for Blackburn Rovers.
Mr Whelan describes the feeling of lifting the FA Cup at Wembley as ‘one of the proudest days of my life and I am so happy to have played a part in creating an unforgettable memory for all the people of Wigan.’
Under his tenure, the club also achieved the feat of reaching the Carling Cup Final in 2006, while the other trophy to be won during his time was the 1999 Auto Windscreens Shield.
SEE THIS WEEK’S WIGAN OBSERVER FOR AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT WHELAN’S TIME WITH WIGAN ATHLETIC ...
The time has now come to hand over the reins. I am approaching 80 years old and spend an increasingly long time abroad and cannot make it to gamesDave Whelan