Relegation 'wouldn't knock us off track', but we'll stay up - Wigan Athletic CEO

Mal Brannigan ‘firmly believes’ Wigan Athletic ‘will still be a League One football club next season’.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 6:03 pm
Mal Brannigan (second left) at Gillingham, with Sarah Guilfoyle (club secretary) and board members Richard Bramwell and Tom Markham

But the new CEO says even a temporary drop into the fourth tier would not affect the long-term rebuild of the club.

It’s been a busy week already for new owners Phoenix 2021 Limited, who officially took over on Tuesday night to end nine months of off-field uncertainty.

The following night, Brannigan was in the crowd to see Latics go down 1-0n at Gillingham, to remain in the drop zone with eight games to play.

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Latics have a weekend off now before their next game, the visit of Portsmouth on Easter Monday.

But Brannigan is hoping the feel-good factor generated by the takeover will help the side over the line in the relegation sprint finish.

“It would be great if the takeover could give the team a lift for the run-in,” he told Wigan Today.

“We’ve got eight games left...do I believe we’re going to get enough points for this football club to remain in League One? Definitely.

“I’m very confident in that, and I’m very confident in the ability of Leam (Richardson), Gregor (Rioch) and the rest of the coaching staff in being able to motivate the team.

“It’s a very threadbare squad at the moment, unfortunately, but the coaching staff have done a great job so far. And we do hope this news has a positive effect on the team and the fans.”

While some would see a second relegation in the space of two seasons as a hammerblow, Brannigan says it’s all about the bigger picture.

When asked whether it would prove a massive setback to the new owners’ plans, he replied: “Not at all, not at all. What it would do is mean it would take a little bit longer to realise our ambitions here.

“The ownership group and the board are very mindful of the fact it may be that League Two is where we have to start from next year.

“Obviously we want the team to remain in League One. But it wouldn’t knock us off course, in terms of what we want to do, if that wasn’t the case.”

Regardless of which division Latics are in next season, it will be another summer of mass upheaval, with only a handful of players still under contract beyond June 30.

While a daunting prospect on one hand, it also affords the new regime a blank canvas from which to set out their designs for the future.

“I think it’s challenging, but it’s also exciting at the same time,” Brannigan acknowledged.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity here not only for my colleagues who are coming in, but also for the players already here looking to next season.

“Obviously there’s eight games left and, whether that’s to try and earn themselves a new contract herem, or open the door to opportunities elsewhere, it’a a huge period for the club.

“I’m confident we will be successful in our aims over the last eight games, but we know there’s clubs around us who are also fighting for the same goal.

“Having said that, I firmly believe we will still be a League One football club next season – and we’ll take it from there.”

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