WIGAN Athletic chairman Dave Whelan today moved to quash rumours that he was poised to sell the club and DW Stadium to Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan.
The Wigan Evening Post has received a number of phones and e-mails from sources this week suggesting that the two millionaire businessmen were close to a deal.
But never one to mince his words, Mr Whelan today described the suggestions as “total rubbish.”
He didn’t help the rumour mill himself during an interview at the end of last year when he mentioned Mr Lenagan’s name during a discussion over who would succeed him as Latics chairman in which his 21-year-old grandson David Sharpe was also named.
However today he was distancing himself from both of those options, saying that David – who is soon to launch a new big fish and chip restaurant near the stadium – “isn’t quite old enough yet.”
And as for the Warriors chief, the 75-year-old said: “I intend to step down as chairman within the next two years but there are no immediate plans with regard to Wigan Athletic or the ground.
“If people are saying I am selling to Ian Lenagan, well that’s total rubbish. He is a rugby man and I don’t think he would even want to buy the club.
“But I get on very well with Ian Lenagan, we are good friends and we both have the interests of Wigan at heart in our two chosen sports.
“Wigan Warriors use the ground and I want to see that continue. As far as the stadium is concerned I have spoken to Ian in regard to increasing the amount of money both clubs should be putting into it for its upkeep.”
Mr Whelan said it was perfectly possible for him to step down as chairman but remain the owner of the club. He said that when he did relinquish the top seat it might be one of the club’s other directors who took over.
When the then JJB Stadium was built in the late 1990s, Mr Whelan gave a 15 per cent share in it to Wigan Council to ensure that it would always be used for the playing of football and rugby.
Wigan Athletic shareholders have another two per cent of the club.
Mr Whelan said he had “no intention of selling the stadium” though.