Groundhog Day

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It’s really beginning to feel like groundhog day isn’t it?

Yet another week passes by, another week with no real movement on the takeover of Wigan Athletic and another week where the administrators from Begbies Traynor manage to contradict themselves – sometimes in the space of a few minutes, let alone days.

Let’s have another look back at the week shall we? Latics had a boost on Friday with the signings of Danny Fox and Nathan Cameron – Cameron seems to have been a lower league stalwart after his emergence from Coventry’s youth academy managed by one Gregor Rioch whilst Danny Fox is well known to everyone at the DW. I was surprised we managed to lure Fox back, he’s reaching the winter of his career now but he was excellent during the re-start last season before he was injured.

Sadly those defensive reinforcements didn’t make much impact for Latics against Gillingham despite Joe Garner once again getting on the scoresheet, it’s going to take time for Wigan Athletic and indeed John Sheridan. If you wrote up the worst case scenario for planning for a gruelling season like the one we have ahead of us the script writers would have said “Nah too unrealistic” when looking at Wigan Athletic.

This is a club and a side that has been scarred by the last three months and that shows through every bit of the club. It wasn’t that Saturday’s performance was bad, it was just lacking. Lacking in any real threat going forward (despite the two goals) and lacking in any real strength in defence.

This will come with time and it certainly doesn’t look like the men vs boys that Bolton’s season looked like last year. But the fact remains until new ownership comes on board and indeed new finances to strengthen John Sheridan and Leam Richardson’s hands are tied.

But there was some light relief on Tuesday evening in the EFL Trophy. Like many things this is a competition that has been ruined by the EFL, a competition that was one of the few chances of the lower league sides having a day out at Wembley and having the dream of playing a Cup Final at the home of football. This was diluted in 2016 when the EFL and Premier League agreed that U-23 sides would now take part in the competition.

As a result I’ve paid very little attention to the competition since but with the club needing every penny it can get at the minute bought my streaming pass for Tuesday’s match with Liverpool’s U-23 side. I questioned my sanity once Liverpool scored the opener on the stroke of half-time and missed the equaliser watching the Prime Ministers statement. I then missed the third goal going to get a beer from the fridge, but otherwise it felt like £10 well spent.

John Sheridan named a relatively strong looking line-up (as strong as you could in our case) and the mix of exciting youngsters and senior pros played very well. The build-up play was very good with Charlie Jolley and Olly Crankshaw in particular looking very good for us. Add in to that more goals for Joe Garner and Kal Naismith and it turned in to a very good night indeed.

If we’re being honest this competition isn’t anywhere near the priorities for Wigan Athletic this season but a win is a win and in our current situation I think we needed that, we needed to remember what it feels like to win football matches.

Gavin Massey is due to return this weekend for the trip to Portsmouth and although he struggled to get going last season due to injury he could be so important for us this time around. That’s if Kranser and Co haven’t flogged him for a bag of Haribo before the transfer window closes that is.

Although on the pitch Latics are trying their best to get things together off it there isn’t much positive at all to write home about.

Despite telling us we would have movement last week, and very well could be at the contract exchange stage this week Gerald Krasner informed Barry Worthington earlier this week that no acceptable bid had yet been made for the club.

This followed on from a quite extraordinary statement issued on the club’s website where many things were discussed including an accusation that mysterious bidders had pulled out of a deal to buy the club due to talk on social media amongst Wigan Athletic supporters. If we’re taking Mr Krasner at his word on this I would suggest bidders who aren’t keen on publicity may not be best placed to own a football club.

Paul Stanley also commented on the criticism surrounding transfer fees that the club have received for its prized assets and that looking back describing the sales by Latics administrators as “remarkable in the current market”. I mean if you compare what we received for Kieffer Moore (reportedly below his release clause) and what Brentford paid for Ivan Toney a League One striker. Yeah it’s remarkable, remarkably low.

It’s difficult to keep up with the statements coming out of the club now as they change so frequently. Paul Stanley also said it’s an ideal time to buy Wigan Athletic in his interview with the Observer that came a week after he told the Guardian that the Pandemic ‘was doing us no favours’ and making it harder to sell the club. This following on the heels of Paul Stanley saying League One could be more attractive to bidders than the Championship. It’s no wonder the Latics fan base are exasperated with what’s going on.

Throw in to the mix the return of Norman Smurthwaite the pantomime villain who nearly destroyed Port Vale – after very publically pulling out of the running two weeks ago big Norm was back this week, letting Latics fans know he’s there as our saviour if we need him.

Our issues were confounded with the wholly expected news of a stop to the return of supporters to live sports events any time soon. Without targeted support that both government and the Premier League seem reluctant to provide this could prove the death knell for many football clubs, certainly those in the football league and non-league and I really think it could hamper our prospects of a successful sale. Pricing the club up the way they have and rejecting bids in the way they reportedly have has backed the administrators in to a corner.

Will anyone knowing that it could well be next Spring at the earliest before supporters are allowed to return to matches buy the DW Stadium now knowing that? Why would you buy a Stadium in need of investment with ridiculous business rates that loses a Million pound plus a year in normal times when you can’t even host a coffee morning let alone a football match?

Until the pandemic has passed the Stadium is simply a money pit and I can’t see any bidders coming up with what the administrators want for us. I think we might be lucky to receive bids that we’ve already received, let alone over that.

It’s an almighty mess and I feel so helpless in it all, I can’t go to the Stadium to pay money in tickets to support the club that way and I can’t support the lads on the pitch vocally. What Choi, Yeung and the EFL did to us should never be forgotten. If we manage to make it through this the pain will remain for a long time.

Sean Livesey

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