Dave Whelan quits: Wigan chairman explains decision to step down and appoint 23-year-old grandson

Meanwhile, investigation into Wigan manager Malky Mackay has widened

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Dave Whelan on Tuesday resigned as chairman of Wigan Athletic and chose his 23-year-old grandson to replace him. Whelan has owned the club for 20 years – and will continue to do so – taking them from the fourth tier of English football to the top, and winning the FA Cup in 2013.

The Championship club also learnt that the Football Association’s investigation into manager Malky  Mackay over alleged racist texts when he was in charge of Cardiff has been widened by the discovery of “significant new information”.

Whelan, 78, was banned from all football activities for six weeks by the FA in December after breaching misconduct rules with comments made about Jewish and Chinese people. Soon after the ending of that suspension, Whelan announced his decision to step down from his role.

“The time has now come to hand over the reins,” Whelan said in a short statement released on the Wigan website. “I am approaching 80 years old and spend an increasingly long time abroad, and cannot make it to games. It is a decision I have been mulling over for some years and I believe David is now ready.”

David Sharpe is Whelan’s grandson who became chairman on Tuesday and will soon be formally elected as the new chairman of Wigan by the board. Sharpe has been involved with the club for the last year, running a fish and chip restaurant called Sharpy’s next to the DW Stadium which eventually closed down due to a lack of business. Sharpe will run the club in conjunction with chief executive Jonathan Jackson.


Whelan admitted to Sky Sports News that he had Sports News that he had decided to leave because he was too old to do the job as well as he used to. “We all know as we’re getting older that there’s certain things that you suffer from,” Whelan said. “Your memory is not quite the same, your judgement is not quite the same. When I’m watching a football match I forget the players’ names. I never, ever used to do that.”

Despite transforming the fortunes of Wigan – leading them to eight consecutive seasons in the Premier League, their only spell in the top flight – Whelan has rather left the chairmanship under a cloud. Having been relegated in 2013, they are currently second from bottom in the Championship. They have won just six games this season.

The appointment of Mackay as manager in November has been a disaster, not least because it was in defending that appointment that Whelan made the comments that led to his ban. Whelan had told The Guardian, while discussing Mackay, that it was “nothing” to call a Chinese person “a chink” and that “Jewish people chase money”. The FA banned Whelan for six weeks, fined him £50,000 and ordered him to undertake a diversity education programme.

Malky Mackay (left) and Dave Whelan shake hands at the DW Stadium


Whelan said that he was still baffled at the punishment he received from the FA. “That charge did hurt me, there’s no question,” he said. “It hurt me, it hurt my wife because we’re not racist people in any way, shape or form.

“The FA came to the decision that I wasn’t a racist, but they fined me £50,000 and banned me for six weeks. I could not understand what that was all about. If I’m not a racist why did I have to have those punishments?”