Mike Danson and Wigan Athletic – A new Whelan era?

by | Jun 14, 2023 | News

Dejá vu?

Well, this could really be a case of what’s goes around, comes around. Just over 25 years ago Dave Whelan pulled the Warriors out of the proverbial shit, buying the near bankrupt Rugby League team and giving them a new home, and it looks like Warrior’s owner is looking to do the same for us.

Mr Whelan took over Latics in 1995, saving us from our fate of going out of business, and providing a future which included Wigan Athletic winning the FA Cup, Final of the League Cup, a European Tour, playing in the Charity Shield and spending 8 years in the topflight.

In January 1997 the Latic’s owner came to the call of the Warriors Board with the club’s shareholders approving a deal in which the Central Park stadium would be sold to Wigan Athletic’s owner Dave Whelan and be redeveloped to provide a new home for both the football and rugby teams. Two months later however, the Warriors’ chairman Jack Robinson reneged on the deal, accepting a rival bid from Tesco, pointing out that the supermarket’s offer was three times bigger than Whelan’s.

This meant looking elsewhere for a new stadium for us, and so the ball started rolling with a joint application with Orrell RUFC, which was approved and put in motion. However, this was not to be last word on it, as Jack Robinson decided he had finally had enough of the town’s rugby team and flirted with the proceeds of the Tesco deal, leaving the Warriors looking for a new place to play.

Building a new one would take a new owner prepared to dig deep, another option was for them to move to Horwich with Bolton Wanderers. But Dave Whelan yet again stepped in and bought the Warriors. With the news that Orrell didn’t want professional Rugby Union, the new Ground was to have the Warriors as lodgers.

This showed true passion from Whelan, as he had been shafted in the past by the old Board, just like they shafted Latics in the 80s. But having put all that behind him, plus the old board and structure gone, a new Rugby Club had been born, albeit with Maurice Lyndsay still at helm.

After the announcement of Maurice Lindsay’s intention to retire in 2007, Whelan managed to persuade him to stay on until the end of the season. After the announcement of Lindsay’s retirement however, Whelan said he would be willing to sell the club after a proposed takeover from a “genuine Wigan fan” earlier in the year.

On 24 October 2007, it was announced that Ian Lenagan had completed his takeover of Wigan Warriors, buying out Whelan’s 89% stake in the club with the deal taking effect from 1 December 2007.

Mike Danson over the past few years, bought into the Warrior’s and looks to take full control in the near future. So will bringing the two Clubs back together work like it did first time round? Well I certainly hope so. Don’t get me wrong, I hated the RL club from the 80s and 90s that wanted to put us under, but even I can see that this club is well and truly in the past, and to be honest, so should our angst.

Like Whelan did 25 years ago, this could be a master stroke that sees both teams thrive with each other, rather than battling over historical grievances. I don’t see a Whelanesque promise of topflight football, far from it. It costs far more now than it did back in 1995, and I don’t see why a new owner would put that investment in, for little or more probably, no return.

What I think we will see is sustainability and hopefully the trust in Shaun Maloney as manager, who has a plan to sustainably keep us in League One in the short term and ultimately over time see progression through the League.

What certainly needs to happen, is for us the fans to get behind the new owner, get behind the manager, get behind the squad. Turn up 30 to 60 minutes earlier and have a drink, a pint, or some food at the ground. Buy something from the club shop, if you are able to. For us to thrive we need to help any way we can.

Mr Danson is a Wiganer and he wants to look after us, but for that to happen, we have to look after ourselves too.

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