“It’s the Hope That Gets You “

EDITORWe received this from a Wigan fan regarding their recent struggles and felt it was well worth a read, and probably a case of be thankful for what you’ve got, and be careful what you wish for….have a read. 

Wigan fans were optimistic, and with good reason. Well into the summer of a year which, we can all agree has been challenging at best, Wigan’s season had taken a U-turn. Sitting 3rd in the form table since Christmas with only Premier League bound Leeds and Brentford ahead of us, finding the ability to be able to close out games and keep clean sheets things were looking understandably promising. Fresh off the back of a 3-0 demolishing of Stoke at the DW fans talk had turned to finishing mid table and the thought of a playoff push next year. That was the 30th June, little did we know 1 day later everything was about to change.

In truth, as a fan when the ownership of your club changes hands it can be a worrying time. This happened to us originally in 2018 when Dave Whelan (he broke his leg in the FA Cup Final you know) finally passed on ownership to a Hong Kong based conglomerate that were said to be worth billions. It started, as all of these things do, well. A £10 million transfer kitty was given to then manager Paul Cook and thoughts of returning to the promised land of Europe’s biggest league didn’t seem to be fantasy anymore. Your thoughts as a fan range from: What are their intentions with our club? Do they understand the costs involved? Why not go for a similar level club with bigger fan base? Why us? But as fans you rarely get the answer to these questions and you are left to put your trust in the previous ownership and the incoming ownership to handle your club, your pride and joy, with care.

Administration has been absolutely devastating to the club. It’s hard to put into words your feelings of anger, upset and injustice. Safe to say I would never wish this on fans of any club. We watched our team be ripped apart; players signed a little over a year ago sold for a fraction of their worth. Young players who had been followed eagerly by fans for years picked off by the Premier League: Jenson Weir, Alfie Devine and Joe Geldhart are names you will hear in the future. The long and short of it is that we have been abundantly let down. Talks of bets being placed on our relegation by ownership were fierce as was the criticism of the EFL. How can they let crooks take over a community football club? What is the point of the fit and proper persons’ test? Wigan had been taken over again in late June. The semantics of that takeover I will not go into. However, the fact is that once that takeover was completed the new owner stopped putting funds into the club which eventually, a little over 6 weeks later led to us being put into administration.

The club had been run well, at a loss, but well. It is though, an untenable model that is all too prevalent in today’s game. Many clubs up and down the country are run at a loss and every club no matter how big they are run the risk of the same happening to them if they decide to use this model. The clubs become the playthings of billionaires, this is why the EFL need to take urgent action and I think that would be the overwhelming feeling of fans. The EFL are letting clubs down. 12-point deductions and the threat of further deductions do not work, they only serve to hurt the people who love the club. Does Wigan’s ex owner care that they got a 12-point deduction and subsequent relegation?

Yet with all that has happened we come back to optimism. There is now an optimism again with the fans. Sights are set a little lower; we want to compete in League One, we’re happy to have a team to support. We hope to have a Spanish buyer in place, we hope they will look after us better than the previous owners. As with all things in life…. it’s the hope that gets you.

Sam Dickson (Wigan Athletic)

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