Where do we stand?

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How do you begin to describe the goings on of the last few days? With great difficulty I imagine.

As always with these things, they break when you least want it to. I’ve been away with the kids for the last few days and without a match until Saturday thought it safe to turn off the phone for a few hours.


When I turned my phone back on on Tuesday evening, several missed calls, hundreds of WhatsApp messages and texts from Latics men and women young and old trying to find out what was happening.

Once again the Daily Mail had done another version of ‘that article’. It’s not for me to criticise the writer of that particular article and the subsequent sequels to the original but it’s the third time we’ve seen that now.

So let’s deal in facts.

The Daily Mail article said that the players (and staff) had not been paid.

That was false, the employees were paid but once again late (I realise this is not a good look for the club). The players being paid was later confirmed by both Alan Nixon and the Wigan Post.

The Daily Mail article went on to claim that the club was up for sale and actively being touted around third parties, this was also reported in the summer and for a supposed price tag of £15m I imagine if anyone offered Mr Al Jasmi and the board that sort of money they would indeed sell the club.

All we can go off is Mal Branigan in his statement saying that the club is not up for sale, and indeed potential bidders have been politely turned away.

Before I go on and look at the eventual resolution to this worrying tale it’s important to acknowledge that Wigner’s will forever feel jitters when it comes to ownership and financial matters.

The ownership of 2018-20, and the eventual sale and entry in to administration will forever be a cursory tale of not taking everything you’re told at face value.

I recognise that many over the last few days will have felt that same sort of in the pit of your stomach feeling we experienced back in July 2020.

I think the intentions of the Phoenix group, Mr Al Jasmi, Talal Al Hammed and Mal Branigan are a world away from what Choi and Yeung had in mind for us.

But I think – quite clearly there has been mistakes with the payroll and quite possibly a re-drawing of the business map since the day we were saved.

There’s a lot of issues in the world post covid from the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis to raging inflation and interest rates world wide.

Football clubs aren’t immune to this, certainly not football clubs from provincial Northern towns that struggle to muster ten thousand through the doors (as good as that is for a club like Wigan Athletic).

So where do we stand now, well where we were at the start of the week. The club if we are to believe everything Mal Branigan has told us (and I’ve no real reason not to) is in robust health, certainly off the pitch.

A new contract has been agreed with the manager that can only be a good thing as it provides him and his staff with the confidence and support needed to then turn our form around without the worry of the axe falling at any moment.

Quite clearly this was announced to distract from the fall out on Tuesday night but it’s well earned and we’ll deserved in my eyes. Regardless of when it was agreed and how it was announced.

On the pitch there’s matters to work on, I enjoyed my afternoon in West London last weekend. If you can ever enjoy a defeat that is, but the performance was fantastic.

We conced two soft goals but for large parts of the game, and certainly all of the second half we were the better side. Josh Magennis’s fantastic overhead scissor kick should have seen us draw level, but even before that we’d gone close on numerous occasions.

After how poor we were against Middlesbrough it was an absolute relief to see us back towards something like our best.

We’re in a bad run of form, no doubt about that. Since the Hull game we’ve struggled but Saturday gave me the confidence that we’ll be fine this year if we continue to play like that.

It’s been a bad week and I hate quoting the ‘at least we’ve got a club’ line but it could have been far far worse than it is.

There wasn’t a line of multi billionaires lining up to buy Wigan Athletic in 2020, hell there wasn’t even a line of multi millionaires.

The days of Dave Whelan and unquestionable commitment have sadly passed us by, we’ll never have that again but I believe (and I could well be incorrect here – all views are valid) that our owners are well meaning people with the best intentions for our club at heart.

They said actions are louder than words and so far they’ve delivered for that they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Sean Livesey

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