Talking football: Wigan Athletic - It's time for action now, not more words

‘Actions speak louder than words'.
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The buzz phrase of Phoenix 2021 Limited on taking control of Wigan Athletic almost two years ago.

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And for the first 12-15 months, those actions spoke deafeningly positive.

Wigan Athletic's DW StadiumWigan Athletic's DW Stadium
Wigan Athletic's DW Stadium
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However, for the past nine months or so, it's been a different story.

It's now not actions, but non-actions, which are speaking at an alarming, worrying, and deafening volume.

On four occasions during that period, the wages haven't been paid on time.

Once, you can possibly give the benefit of the doubt.

Delays can happen, especially given a Jubilee weekend, which saw an extra bank holiday added to the calendar.

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The following month, though, there was a repeat, according to the club, 'due to an issue beyond our control'.

And despite a pledge that 'the payment processes have been changed, so this will not occur again', it indeed happened again, just before Christmas - the worst possible time for families.

That led to the EFL stepping in to demand 'the deposit of an amount equal to 125 per cent of the forecast monthly wage bill in a designated club account, which may be called upon should there be any future delays in processing payments'.

Despite seemingly eliminating the possibility of a fourth breach - which the EFL confirmed would lead to a three-point deduction - the wages weren't paid on time for a fourth time at the end of last week.

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For whatever reason, the money once again didn't arrive in time.

And for whatever reason, the designated club account had not been credited with the agreed 125 per cent of the forecast monthly wage bill.

For a club - and staff - who went so close to losing everything less than three years ago, it's been a savage reopening of wounds that hadn't properly healed.

So what now?

Shaun Maloney looked a broken man as he addressed the media in the aftermath of Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Burnley, which left Latics six points adrift of safety with 10 matches remaining.

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And with that looming three-point deduction from the EFL, the task facing Maloney and his men looks incredibly daunting.

However, it's a measure of the man that, by the time he faced the media again on Monday, his mood had completely changed tack.

Aware of the need for strong, positive, fighting leadership, Maloney came out swinging to rally the troops.

"I’m all in, and ready to go!" he roared.

Whether that will be enough, remains to be seen.

It's just sad that so much of the reason for the struggles this term have come off the field - and firmly in the 'self-inflicted' bracket.

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There's already been a widespread recognition that the squad wasn't strengthened as much as it should have been last summer.

A flying start to the campaign under Leam Richardson masked the problem, but not enough to prevent the man who only months earlier had seen a stand at the DW named after him paying a high price.

The less said about the decision to hand Kolo Toure the reins, the better.

And even though we've seen a few shoots of recovery under Maloney - and a greater unity around the club - the events of the past few days have greatly hampered his attempts to keep Latics in the Championship.

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Latics have, of course, been relegated from this level several times before, and come back stronger.

If the worst does occur, hopefully they'll be able to do the same.

For that to happen, though, the totally unacceptable and utterly inexcusable off-field situation has to be righted - once and for all.

We’ll forever remain grateful to Phoenix 2021 Limited for saving the club in 2021.

They were there when no-one else was.

But this is 2023.

And it's time for action, not more words.