New training base still on Latics agenda

Wigan Athletic reserves in action at Christopher Park
Wigan Athletic reserves in action at Christopher Park

WIGAN Athletic remain fully committed towards their proposed new training base at Charnock Richard despite their failure to win promotion.

That’s the message from chief executive Jonathan Jackson, who has revealed plans for the new development will be submitted later this month.

And if all goes according to plan, Latics hope the building work will be completed in time for the start of the 2016/17 season.

“We hope to submit plans for Charnock Richard in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll hear in September whether that’s been successful or not,” Jackson told the Evening Post.

“We hope it will be, and then we can start to develop the site to be the new training ground and academy of Wigan Athletic.

“It’s a two-year project, so we wouldn’t be there until 2016 at the earliest, but it’s something we’re working towards.”

Jackson says Latics have ‘outgrown’ their current training base at Christopher Park.

And with the club’s long-term plan to become self-sufficient – and less reliant on the wallet of chairman Dave Whelan – Jackson insists the setting-up of the new academy is imperative.

“It’s important we have an infrastructure in place to take the club forward,” he added.

“Christopher Park has been our base for the last 15-20 years and it’s been okay but we’ve now outgrown it.

“If we want to have a successful academy then we have to have facilities that we don’t have at the moment.

“You only have to look at other clubs who have successful academies to see the quality of players that can be developed.

“We’re in a very competitive geographical area, and without those facilities we don’t stand a chance.

“It’s important for the whole fabric of the football club that we have somewhere like this that is comparative to other clubs.

“We’re a little bit behind other clubs in terms of facilities, but this will certainly address those problems and give us a real base to develop players of the future and give the first team a place that is befitting of the Premier League.”

Jackson reckons the project will underline Wigan’s ambitions to remain a top club moving forward - and not slide back down the footballing pyramid.

“The challenge of turning an 18-hole golf course into a facility like this – that will house players from the age of nine, include 14 full-size pitches, an indoor 4G pitch – will put Wigan Athletic on to a completely different level,” he explained.

“It will mean we are in the top 30-40 clubs in the country for the foreseeable future, and it’s important for the chairman that he will be leaving that legacy because he has put so much into the club during the last 20 years.

“I think it would be fitting if we could take that on and ensure we remain at the top.

“We don’t plan this adventure to be something we’ve enjoyed but it’s now back to the fourth division. We’re here to stay.”