Whelan: We want Warriors at the DW

DAVE Whelan has moved to ease fans’ fears that Warriors may have to take a DW play-off match ‘on the road’.

If the champions lose to St Helens this Sunday they will be entitled to a home game the following Friday or Saturday.

But Latics host Spurs on the Saturday and – given the Super League giants are usually not allowed to play the night before a Premier League fixture to preserve the quality of the pitch – it has triggered speculation Wigan would need to play elsewhere.

In 2007 the Cherry and Whites had to stage a ‘home’ match in Widnes because of a DW fixture clash.

Sky Sports have already reserved Friday and Saturday evening slots for next week’s games.

And if the broadcaster would not allow Wigan to play on the Sunday – should they lose to Saints – then Whelan is prepared to let the Challenge Cup winners take to the field on the Friday.

In a pledge that will be warmly received by Warriors followers, he told the Evening Post: “I want Wigan to play at home – we don’t want Wigan to play elsewhere, at Widnes or any other ground.

“The ground is in super condition at present, and if they have to play next Friday, Ian (Lenagan, Warriors chairman) has guaranteed me Wigan will pick up the cost of cleaning the ground and making it ready for a Premier League match the following day.

“He’s a man of his word and so, if we have to do it, we’re both determined that Wigan will play at the DW.

“Hopefully we’ll beat Saints and it won’t be an issue, but if we don’t we’ll come to an agreement.”

If Wigan beat St Helens the clash will be avoided, as Michael Maguire’s men would have a blank weekend and progress straight to a home semi-final on the weekend of September 30-October 1, when Latics are away at Aston Villa.

But if Saints win – and Sky won’t change their schedule – a clash arises.

“Sky just dominate the rugby league clubs and say ‘This is what you have to do’,” added Whelan.

“If Wigan don’t win on Sunday we have to iron it out between ourselves and Premier League and Sky.

“But we don’t want Wigan to play elsewhere.”

Two of the Premier League’s main criteria governing ground-sharing are that the football fixture takes precedent, and about the state of the pitch – hence the reason why Warriors do not usually play at the DW the day before Latics.