Football 'must protect pyramid for clubs like Wigan Athletic'
Leam Richardson has held up Wigan Athletic as a shining example of why the football pyramid must be protected at all costs.
The European Super League has announced it is considering “appropriate steps to reshape the project” after England’s so-called Big Six clubs announced they were leaving the proposed breakaway competition.
And with Latics having epitomised the footbaling rollercoaster over the last quarter of a century, Richardson says other clubs must be allowed to dream of similar success stories.
“Certainly representing Wigan at the moment, it typifies everything about a football club,” he said.
“Going back to 1995 when Dave Whelan took over, and the club was averaging 1,500 fans in the old Division Four...if you’d have told anyone connected to Wigan within two decades they’d be in the Premier League, winning the FA Cup, playing in Europe...it’s what dreams are made of.
“I started my own career with a dream of one day playing at an elite level.
“And now you move into coaching and management, and again you want to be aiming for those elite circles.
“I feel we need to do everything we can to protect our football pyramid.
“You talk about grassroots football, the national team, the need to improve, and there’s that much in place...things like finance and economics shouldn’t really come into it.
“Football drives towns and communities forward, and we need to make sure it continues to do so long after we’re gone and other people are involved.
“You hear things like some people are getting bored with the game.
“And yet you look at our sport, and it’s arguably the most competitive in the world.
“Certainly I’ve got a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old, and they love going to the game with family.
“They’re certainly not bored, and they’ve got such an affiliation to their club.
“That will never change, football will never change.”
Richardson has called on the powers-that-be to come together and form a united front to allow it to make a difference worldwide.
“The biggest thing about football is it’s the ability to be so global on so many fronts,” he added.
“Whether it’s diversity, acting on racism, etc, it’s able to carry a powerful message to so many people.
“This is not about finance and economics, it’s about fans, it’s about history, it’s about generations, it’s about integrity.
“It’s great when you see David against Goliath, and you see that weekly in our game, across all the divisions.
“We’ve seen what it’s like this last year without fans, and it’s nothing in comparison.
“All of the passion has been taken away, and it’s underlined just how much fans mean to the game and its future. We must protect that.”
Get 20% off our sports subscription package and stay up to date with all the latest Wigan Athletic news with a year’s subscription to WiganToday for less than 9p a day. Use promo code TRANSFER20