Wigan Athletic 'victim of our success', says Mal Brannigan

Mal BranniganMal Brannigan
Mal Brannigan
Mal Brannigan says Wigan Athletic are 'a victim of our success' as they continue to chase success on three fronts against an ever-worsening fixture backlog.

Latics saw their festive programme - a trip to Crewe and home games against Fleetwood and Accrington - wiped out due to Covid.

They were already two games behind most of League One, with the added complication of Papa John's Trophy and FA Cup commitments to take care of before their next league game on January 15.

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Latics even tried, in vain, to rearrange one of their upcoming league games to New Year's Day, to try to ease some of the burden.

And Brannigan says they'll do everything they can to prevent their season dreams being shattered due to factors beyond their control.

“We worked hard and went back to the league straight away who have been supportive of what we were trying to do around the other games that were getting called off," he said.

“Everyone can see the pattern and it’s one of those situations where we will keep trying to get a game on as close to New Year’s Day as possible so we don’t get that backlog we know is coming from a very congested fixture list.

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“We know that we could potentially play a game every four days for four months, so we are looking to find any way of potentially easing that.

"We’re a little bit of a victim of our success because we are still in the Papa John’s Trophy and the Emirates FA Cup and it is very important we take those games seriously.

“I think it’s also important to note that it's challenging for everyone.

"I’ve talked about the physical well-being of the players, but it’s the strain that it puts on fans coming away to games that have been moved from a Saturday to a Tuesday.

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“It does have an impact on our fans and we’ve got a tremendous following away from home this season - we’ve seen that with people turning up at Cambridge, Plymouth and Oxford before Christmas.

“It’s something we feel passionate about and keeping hold of and if we can find ways of supporting the fans, we will do it.

"We can’t currently work out where these fixtures are going to sit, but we will work with the Football League to make sure that it all sits well with the games programme they have put together.”

While Latics called off the Boxing Day trip to Crewe they were ready to face Fleetwood and Accrington only for their opponents to call in sick.

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"It’s been massively frustrating for a lot of people," acknowledged Brannigan.

“First and foremost, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope all of our fans have had a good Christmas with their families.

"Part of the whole Christmas get together with the family is to always try and get to a game over the festive period and we haven’t been able to do that.

“The game we had on Boxing Day was all lined up - we saw cases coming in one after the other within our camp and it was us that called it off.

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"It was an enormous disappointment - we held out as late as we could, but we gave as much notice as we could to Crewe to say 'we’re really sorry but we’re not able to do this'.

“I know that as a club and a group of fans, Boxing Day is so important to everybody.

"It’s a huge day out and a fantastic family day and we tried hard to keep it on.

"But we’ve also got to look at the physical and mental well-being of our players at the same time.

"There was sadly no alternative but to call the game off."

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