Chairman David Sharpe says his family have ‘had our time’ as they prepare to hand over the reins at Wigan Athletic.
The 26-year-old, who took over as chairman from grandad Dave Whelan in 2015, will watch as his club take on Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday - a rerun of one of the club’s most iconic moments when they won the competition in 2013.
But with a takeover of the club drawing near - as Whelan brings an end to an association with Latics stretching back to 1995 - Sharpe revealed his grandad thinks the time is right for his family to walk away.
“My grandad is getting older and we have to be realistic and say that a football club in League One, hopefully the Championship next season, is a big burden on the family,” he told The Times.
“I enjoy it, I love it, but my grandad doesn’t want to burden the family with a football club.
“We feel we’ve had our time and that it’s time for someone else to take it onward and upward. I can’t say much, because there are non-disclosure agreements but (the potential buyers) are very much on our wavelength in terms of continuity and doing things the right way.”
The takeover has left some fans to worry about the future of Latics, especially given the Whelan era lifted them all the way from Springfield Park to the Premier League. But Sharpe moved to reassure the club’s faithful that they will be in safe hands.
Pointing to Venky’s-owned Blackburn Rovers, and Leyton Orient - whose US businessman owner Nigel Travis took over in 2017 and had to ‘start from scratch’ - Sharpe revealed the process of finding a buyer with the right ethos has been undertaken with great care.
“That was something my grandad has insisted on,” he explained.
“We’ve had a lot of approaches - some foreign, some English - and we didn’t feel they were right. We have been clear that the club must not lose its identity. We don’t want a Blackburn or a Leyton Orient case. My grandad played for Blackburn, which is just down the road, a similar sort of club where Jack Walker achieved great things for them, like my granded did here, and that’s tone case he always refers to: ‘We don’t want a Blackburn situation’. I believe we’ve found the right people.”