Is football about glory or pain? For those of us who invest our time and money in clicking through that turnstile or travelling the country, you could argue it is about lots of suffering, which is rewarded by the occasional glimpse of glory. We’ve had lots of glory over the past twenty years, much of it unexpected but boy, is it payback time at the minute.
It’s not that we are impatient. Most of us are asking “will this be the week?” Not this day, minute or second but we are now in the sixth month of administration, and still no closer to coming out of it. What we are closer to, is running out of money and there needs to be progress, and quickly. With Christmas approaching, we can only hope that those three wise men (sic) at Begbies are more “ho ho ho” than “bah humbug” and make a decision to accelerate rival offers, should the Spanish bid continue to falter.
So let’s talk about these bids then, on the assumption that there are actually a plural amount of them. The latest news to break appears to be that the main man behind the Spanish bid is borrowing money to fund his buyout of the club. This appears to substantiate the concerns raised by the EFL, who – shock, horror!! It may appear are actually doing a thorough job. That old Wigan gallows humour has meant that we have joked throughout about how if we did get someone buying us, that they would probably do a ridiculously extensive review to punish us, and quelle surprise, that is exactly what is happening. Dare I say, they are not the bad guys in all this, as regardless of their failings in the past, they are only putting this bid under such scrutiny, to ensure that we do not see a repeat of the nightmare we are still enduring.
Some fans are still highly supportive of the Spanish bid, not because of who it is, but also because of who it isn’t (more on that later!) Also, they are the only people who have shown the good faith to stump up the deposit to buy us, so they deserve to see it through. For all the talk of their frugal approach, which is rumoured to be accelerating the departure of key staff, well, what if they are the only option? If it gets rubber stamped tomorrow, then we can get on with the business of strengthening the team and moving up the table.
If, for whatever reason, this bid is rejected then I only hope that other bidders are a) serious and b) can be brought into play very quickly. If they’re not and if they can’t be, then we are in deep trouble. I’m still working on the mantra that “this week will be a good week” but as the weeks pass by, it is turning into a very long wait for this to come to fruition. There is risk everywhere, and none of it is under our control.
Then there is the Plan B “fans bid”. Now I know just how hard everyone involved is working on this, so I am not about to dismiss it, but even they would concede that it is an action of last resort. Much like, if the reputedly, stingy Spanish do takeover, it will be a threadbare side with little investment and in all likelihood, as each week passes buy, a return to League Two. Yet the key benefit of this proposal is that we still have a football club, and in all our darkest moments, the longer that this goes on, that sometimes that looks dubious.
There is also the stadium issue to contemplate here which continues to be the Grant Holt sized elephant in the room. We’ve had lots of people and stakeholders painted as villains throughout this process: Begbies, the EFL, the Council et al and maybe even the owner of a certain other sporting institution in the town has been painted unfairly for his role in the process. Setting that aside, have you ever heard of a successful outcome where the landlord becomes the tenant? Not likely is it? Still there’s always Robin Park if we get clod out. Except there’s not is there? Don’t get me started on that one!
This is why people are nervous, a football club that doesn’t own it’s ground is often a recipe for disaster. See Coventry City and Stockport County for further evidence.
There are two things that most Wigan Athletic fans SHOULD want in an owner, if we’re using Dave Whelan as a template: someone who knows football and a Wiganer. It is a sad state of affairs but because of past history, many fans put more weight on the former than the latter. Dave Whelan is a football man and a Wiganer.
If someone is a Wiganer and a rugby man first and a football man second, then it is probable that they will put rugby before football, and that is why there is distrust, particularly around the supposed Frampton bid. There is a long catalogue throughout history of RL people and the Wigan establishment treating the football club badly, before we even consider what the motives of their current incumbent might be.
I am not so long in the tooth that I can’t get behind a “Sporting Wigan” concept but the discrimination Wigan Athletic fans suffered for most of the eighties and nineties will not heal easily.
That’s before we get to the thorny subject of the hundreds of rugby fans (Wiganers!) mocking Wigan Athletic’s plight and the thousands of them who support other, glory Premier League clubs and whose life would be made much easier if their home town football club simply disappeared, or was at least put back in it’s rightful place. They are not going to jump into bed with Latics because someone tells them to, no more so than thousands of Latics fans are suddenly going to don a gravy stained cherry and white Ellgren jacket and start singing “Simply the Best” on karaoke.
For that reason, the Spanish bid needs to succeed or if it fails, we can only hope that the Ranson/Rowlands bid is genuine and can move at pace to secure the future of the club. The other options, sad as it is for me to say it, will only increase resentment between the various factions in the town. Over to you yet again EFL and Begbies!
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