Wigan’s future has been thrown into doubt after the English Football Association charged the club’s chairman, Dave Whelan, for the comments that he made to defend the appointment of manager Malky Mackay. Wigan took the strange step of appointing the former Cardiff City manager, who was found to have sent text messages of racist nature while in his previous job. Mackay has been charged by the English FA, but a verdict has not been reached yet because the investigation is taking longer than expected. Mackay was brought to replace Uwe Rosler after a poor run of results threatens the club with yet another relegation. Betfair places Wigan at 9/1 in the Championship relegation odds. View latest Championship betting odds here: https://www.betfair.com/sport/football

Mackay returning to football, even when he is subjected to investigation for racist remarks, has divided opinions. Mackay immediately apologised for his comments, which targeted Jews and Chinese, and has been out of work for almost a year. Since it is difficult to draw a line on the punishments for such remarks, which appear to have been intended in a fun rather than aggressive manner, a few have been supportive of Mackay returning to the game.

However, the situation escalated to a new level after Whelan, who is known for airing his views a lot more than many other owners, backed his comments in an interview to the Guardian. His position at the club has been made untenable by the fact that he said he had no problem with the comments made by Mackay as he believed they were true to a certain extent. Mackay branded the Jews as a race that chases money.

Ironically, Wigan are one of the clubs that heavily support the Kick It Out campaign. The club offers several ways, including a confidential line, in order to report racism that may happen inside the DW stadium. Several other initiatives have also been taken by the Championship outfit. Kick It Out has offered to help Wigan during this troubled period even though they heavily criticised Whelan’s comments early on.

Age has been suggested as a reason for Whelan, 77, showing no remorse to the comments he made to the Guardian. Under Whelan’s ownership, the club has risen from the lower reaches of English football to a position where they are known throughout the world due to their lengthy stay in the Premier League. The spell in the Premier League recently came to an end while the parachute payments are set to follow suit shortly. The club has been trying hard to get back into the English top division.

The achievements of Wigan in the last decade have largely been down to the stable spell under Whelan. Unlike some of the foreign owners, the former Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra defender has tried to make an impact by providing a stable platform for managers to build the team. He has provided money to spend, but he is widely known for sticking with managers at a time when sacking them would be the easier option. Whelan threatened to step down from his role if he was found guilty by the English FA.

Now that the English FA have charged him, which amounts to being guilty, it remains to be seen if the 77-year-old will stick to his word.

Uwe Rosler’s team not only came close to getting back to the play-offs, but they came close to winning the FA Cup last season. Momentum, which is usually present for relegated clubs, is very much essential for a promotion push that appears to have deserted the club this season. After flirting with the prospect of relegation since the start, Whelan decided to act and bring in Mackay. Known as a patient owner, not many had an issue with Wigan changing their manager just before Christmas.

It appears that the troubles off the pitch have been affecting the players, as there has been little improvement in form even after the arrival of Mackay. Wigan are without a win in the last four league matches. An away trip to Sheffield Wednesday awaits the team this weekend. It represents a great opportunity for Mackay to get his first league victory as a Wigan manager. Wednesday have not won any match since September and they are fast slipping down the table.

Betfair places Wigan at 17/10 to get three points against Sheffield Wednesday.


The current storm is probably the biggest Wigan have faced since their relegation from the Premier League. If it continues unabated, it has the potential to make the club slip further. The cost of going down to the third division of English football – League One – will be astronomical. Even though clubs like Southampton and Wolves have shown that they can recover from such positions, they are exceptions rather than an example.