Wigan Warriors 'in negotiations' with Wigan Athletic over DW Stadium rent charges

Wigan Warriors have yet to reach an agreement with Wigan Athletic over rent charges for the DW Stadium.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 2:57 pm
The DW Stadium

Executive director Kris Radlinski says Latics' new owners, Phoenix 2021 Ltd, has raised the price and that ongoing talks are "in the right spirit".

Warriors chairman - and majority owner - Ian Lenagan, together with Radlinski, held a fans' forum at Robin Park on Tuesday night.

The event in front of 120 supporters wasn't covered by the media or streamed on the club's TV channel, but a wide-ranging transcript has been published on the club's website.

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In it, Radlinski talked about their current relationship with the League One outfit's new bosses, fronted by CEO Mal Brannigan, while Lenagan confirmed he made three unsuccessful bids to buy Latics' training ground and the DW Stadium when the club was in administration.

He had previously attempted, and failed, to attract investors to buy the club to operate under his vision of a 'Wigan Sporting Partnership'.

Radlinski, referencing an interview Latics chairman Talal Al Hammad gave Wigantoday, said: "You will have seen that the new owner has made a visit to the town recently and made some claims about the stadium being a football stadium. The reality is it is.

"We’re tenants of the stadium and they've come in with new ownership with a with a new chief executive who I meet every week and I have a really good relationship.

"And they've made some bold claims that they're going to turn the stadium blue and all this kind of stuff. We can't do anything about that, unfortunately. So, we'll be working strong to build our relationships and to try and work it through. They have said to us that our rent will be going up, which we're working through at the moment. The negotiations are ongoing and they’re in the right spirit.

"We have spoken to the council to get them involved and made them aware of the situation. But it's an ongoing situation that we need to need you to all be made aware of."

When Latics were in administration, Lenagan says he bid £3.5m for the DW Stadium with the intention of the current relationship being reversed - Latics becoming the tenants - with the football club handed the training ground for free.

That move, he says, came after he had "worked very hard" to try and attract investors to help rescue Latics under his vision of a Wigan Sporting Partnership - an umbrella organisation with three independent strands: Warriors, Latics and the DW Stadium.

Lenagan said: "We didn't want to buy the club, Wigan Athletic, we wanted to buy the stadium and share it for Wigan Athletic and Wigan rugby. And we thought that by buying the stadium, we would hold it safely for the people of Wigan, then going forward. The administrator wouldn't accept it.

"We put in three separate bids to buy the stadium more than it was eventually sold for and couldn't buy it. We also worked very hard to try to do something jointly to take over Wigan Athletic but Wigan Warriors and Lenagan (family) don't want to own a football club. That is not what we want to do. And neither do any of the other two people that I've mentioned earlier – Mike Danson and Darryl Eales (part-owners of Warriors).

"So, our view is simple. Wigan Athletic is better owned by a separate entity and we should share the stadium and co-operate together. We actually went to the point of offering to buy the stadium and the training ground in order to make the training ground available free of charge to Wigan Athletic, and to have rental (on the DW) the normal way, as we have had for so many years. And we nearly got there. But in the end, the administrator was just a pain, and it never came through."

Lenagan was asked by a fan if he or multi-millionaire Danson - who owns a 25 per cent stake in the Warriors - could build a separate stadium.

"If I had a spare £15million and take a 15-year view that I'll get it back. But I can't," said Lenagan, a former chairman of Oxford United and the Football League.

"That's not a good investment when you’ve got a stadium there. You just need to get a sensible negotiation together and that's what we're trying to do." He added: "We are trying to take the common-sense line. A stadium that is used by both clubs in town makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense for supporters of both. I’ve always taken the view that that is the right view. It’s where we are."