The waiting game

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What a truly horrific month July has been, in a year that keeps on kicking you long after the referee has rung the bell at the side of the ring.

To be honest Wednesday night against Fulham followed much the same path as I had expected, but where I thought we would probably get the win I expected both Luton and Charlton to win as well thus meaning our relegation would have been confirmed that way. Instead it was a stubborn Fulham defensive line, some atrocious refereeing and some poor finishing that did for us in the end.

But of course that makes it sound like our relegation was confirmed on the pitch, we all know it wasn’t. Let’s not forget that this Wigan Athletic have had the highest place finish of any Wigan Athletic side in over six years. They and the management at the club have fought manfully and truly don’t deserve to be in this position.

The last week, much like the last month has been a bit of a daze. It took me until the weekend to even get my head around that relegation, so unjust is it in its circumstances. That was compounded by news that the preferred bidder had failed to move forward with the exclusivity arrangements put in place by the administrators. That was clarified this week with Paul Stanley revealing that all the bidders were still interested but none had yet moved forward with exclusivity.

Which sounds very much like they’re waiting to find out what happens at our appeal on Friday, indeed the administrators confirmed as much. The inherent unfairness of clubs being penalised for the decisions of absentee owners is laid bare right there. Wigan Athletic is slowly dying thanks to the decisions of two people in Hong Kong who had never stepped foot in Wigan.

As a result whatever is left of the carcass of Wigan Athletic (and it won’t be much) is punished again by a 12 point deduction that could lead to new owners not taking us on and going someway to killing off what’s left of the club.

Administration is a brutal process and it’s laughable that this wasn’t even the nuclear option from Choi and Wai Key, no they preferred liquidation. We wouldn’t even be here now if they had got what they wanted, we would have simply ceased to exist. More bad news has come down the line this week with the news that Paul Cook had resigned as manager.

There’s a lot of people to be angry at at the moment but Cooky isn’t one of those, a former player from a golden age of Scousers and Wigan Athletic he came back and gave us three very good seasons. The standout for me is still the League One title winning campaign, that night against City and the wins at Fleetwood and Doncaster.

It made us believe again after the horrors of Warren Joyce. The Championship has been difficult and many were well within their rights to question why he was still in charge in January after a very poor set of results (if not performances) but that was turned around and we were only two points away from pulling off something remarkable.

Indeed Cook as with the players shouldn’t have a relegation on their C.V’s after this season, they finished 13th and never let anyone else tell you otherwise. Especially those jumped up types from across the border in South Yorkshire.

I’ve never really had any issues with Barnsley fans before but the last seven days has shown (their internet fanbase at least) to be some of the most ungracious, gloating football fans I’ve ever witnessed.

Luckily for us they won’t be present at our appeal against administration on Friday (CHECKS NOTES) Oh wait no Barnsley will be present, the Football League’s ability to contradict itself in every waking hour of the day continued this week as it was announced that Barnsley would be present at Wigan Athletic’s appeal hearing. This despite Stevenage who were relegated from League Two being denied the same rights when they requested to be present at Macclesfield’s hearing. Once again one rule for one club, another for Latics.

I am interested in what Barnsley those protectors of fine and upstanding football morals can bring to the table on Friday. “Yes sir we have been in the bottom three since September 14th and we only escaped thanks to Wigan’s point deduction but we see no reason why you should relegate us.”

If you couldn’t laugh you would cry.

So it’s to our final match of the season on Friday, truly a match that could well shape Wigan Athletic’s future – or lack of it. Everyone I speak to tells me we haven’t a chance but then they said that before we beat Manchester City in May 2013, March 2014 and February 2018. If anyone wonders what our line of defence could be I would suggest taking a look at fellow 12th Man columnist Martin Tarbuck’s piece on the Pie at Night website www.thepieatnight.co.uk if nothing else it’s a good summary of what these people have done to our club, our town, our community.

We’ll know what the future holds more in a week or so but there’s no understating how important the next few days are for Wigan Athletic. Normal football questions like ‘Who will take over from Cook’ are for another time, there’s a battle for the Soul of the club raging at the moment.

There’s no point having a manager if you don’t have a football club to manage – let’s just hope David Phillips QC can work his magic for us.

Sean Livesey

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