Whelan comments: Storm gains momentum

Wigan Athletic new manager press conference at the DW Stadium - Malky Mackay with chairman Dave Whelan
Wigan Athletic new manager press conference at the DW Stadium - Malky Mackay with chairman Dave Whelan

WIGAN Athletic have been plunged into even more controversy after the FA confirmed it is to investigate comments made by Dave Whelan.

His comments were described as “outrageous” by the Board of Deputies of British Jews who refused to accept his “half-hearted” apology.

Mr Whelan told the Guardian newspaper that he believed that Jewish people chase money more than anyone else.

“The Jews don’t like losing money. Nobody likes losing money,” he was quoted as saying.

“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.”

Mr Whelan made a swift apology for any offence caused but that was rejected.

Vice-president of the Board, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Dave Whelan’s comments about Jews are outrageous and offensive, and bring the club and the game in to disrepute.

“His half-hearted apology does not go far enough. You cannot insult a whole group of people, and then say, ‘I would never insult them’, and hope that’s okay.

“We need to see a proper apology and full recognition of the offence caused. Whelan, in his role as chair of a football club, has a responsibility to set the tone for both his players and supporters.

“Racism and antisemitism will prevail on and off the pitch if it’s acceptable and unchallenged in the boardroom’. We will be taking up the matter with the Football Association and Kick It Out.”

Labour MP Ivan Lewis has called for him to stand down.

The Bury South MP said the Football Association needs to take the “toughest possible action” against Whelan, after what Lewis called his ‘abhorrent’ comments.

The former Cardiff manager is also under FA investigation for a number of allegedly racist, sexist, homophobic and antisemitic texts sent from his mobile phone while with the Welsh club.

Since his appointment a cloud of controversy has hung over the DW Stadium, made only worse by this latest debacle.

And Mackay’s former boss, Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan, joined those comdemning his DW counterpart.

The Malaysian businessman said: “I think he insulted the dignity of all Jewish people. I think he insulted the dignity of Chinese.

“This is a racist chairman hiring a racist manager. I hope that stops at two racists in Wigan, not snowballing to 2,000 or 20,000 racists in Wigan.”

But Whelan has received support from some quarters.

Former Latics manager Steve Bruce leapt to the defence of his old boss saying he is no racist.

He said: “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.

“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.”

And former England manager and Watford chairman Graham Taylor defended both men in the firing line.

He said: “Malky has made a mistake. He has admitted it and he hasn’t tried to hide it. He has held his hand up and has apologised for it. I am biased because I know this man and he is a good man.

“I find it very difficult from what he has apparently done to suggest, as some people have, that he can’t carry on in football. I disagree with that.”

And he added: “The Dave Whelan I know is a good man and an honest man.

“He is not looking to cause trouble deliberately. I hope it subsides and goes away and he can get on with the job he’s done so well as the chairman of his football club.”

However, that has not prevented the FA from opening an investigation.

The FA’s disciplinary department is understood to be studying the transcript of the interview and it is expected Whelan will face an aggravated misconduct charge - aggravated because he referred to race.

A spokesman confirmed that the FA would be writing to Mr Whelan, who would have until Wednesday to give his observations on the matter.

The whole incident caused a social media storm on Thursday evening.

Guardian journalist Amy Lawrence wrote: “Nobody has ever told Dave Whelan that it’s better sometimes to just say nothing, have they. Excruciating stuff...”

Telegraph football writer Henry Winter said such comments promote the introduction of the Rooney Rule, which would mean owners would be obliged to meet with managers of different ethnic backgrounds when interviewing for any 

He tweeted: “I believe in the Rooney Rule and listening to Dave Whelan makes me believe in it even more.”