The times they are a changing…

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…and it seems that little ole’ Wigan Athletic have been singled out to be the next victim, er target for the murky world of Far Eastern Investment. Those of you who read about online will have spotted a couple of articles by myself and a good mate perhaps questioning the wisdom of this and exercising caution. Let’s face it, these kind of things seldom end well.

Whereas we received plenty of direct praise, there were some anonymous ripostes elsewhere claiming that I was a 60 year old man who sits in the West Stand who would rather be in the Northern Premier League than the actual Premier League. Well, my faceless online chum, you appear to have mistaken the words “Northern Premier League” for “Self-sufficient” and “Sustainable”, which in any other business than football would be the key to success and survival.

So, for the avoidance of doubt, I want Wigan Athletic to play at the highest level possible for as long as they can. We are doing fine right now: a great manager, a strong, talented young squad of players we actually like and seem to care. We are winning football matches, playing attacking football and the fans have a smile on our faces. Oh and I’m 44 not 60.

We knew that the Whelan era would not last forever, and reading between the lines, it seems the sole reason Garry Cook has been brought in was to find a buyer and he has succeeded. I’ve said this before but finding the right owner for your football club is a thousand times more important than finding the right manager so I dearly hope we have chosen well.

Success to me would involve changing very little in the short term as we are ticking along just fine thank you. In the longer-term who knows. Without investment, we could be at best a lower mid-table Championship club, although we are still in possession of a squad far stronger than our income should be able to fund and that won’t remain the case.

Is the idea of this investment simply to maintain the club as it is or is it, as has been reported – to get us back to the Premier League? Some fans are clearly enthused by the idea of us becoming a “Man City lite”. Let’s face it, anybody would be daft to turn it down but they were the ones who struck the jackpot. Elsewhere, in the lower leagues there are dozens of tales of woe where the ownership of a club has promised the world but resulted in financial meltdown. At least the Venkys have now achieved their aim of making Blackburn Rovers a top five club!

Far from what I have been accused of, I am not wanting us to fail, or dismissing new owners before they come in, I am just saying that we should proceed with caution. We, as fans, have little say or little option as to what will follow, but if we’re saying it’s wrong to assume it’s a bad thing, then it’s also dangerous to assume it’s a good thing.

It is, unfortunately pot luck as to what will happen. I am excited at the prospect but keen to see that the club will continue to be run under good governance. Managers, owners, players, staff all come and go, the only constant at a football club is it’s fans. It is the job of those fans to make sure the stewards of our football club are held accountable.

Yet for now, the main thing is that we experience as little disruption on the pitch as possible. Whereas a point at Gillingham is not to be sniffed at, Shrewsbury just keep trucking so we slipped to second.

Another tough game is in store at Blackpool this Saturday and the fact we always win there worries me a bit as they now seem to be a team on the up after a few tumultuous years. And why have they had a few tumultuous years? I refer you to the paragraphs above. See what I mean.

Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 20th October 2017

You can you hear more of this agenda driven nonsense on episode 33 of the Pie at Night Podcast. It can be found in all the usual places, our Soundcloud page, on iTunes  or by searching on your preferred podcast app.  You can also get it on our brand spanking new AudioBoom page, or if you like it here, by clicking play on the player below…

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