Rugby League: Troubled Wigan facing police investigation

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Police in Wigan have confirmed they are to investigate alleged irregularities in the proxy votes that kept the club chairman and vice-chairman in power last month.

Jack Robinson and Tom Rathbone were re-elected at an emergency meeting called by share- holders trying to force them out because of their role in selling the Central Park ground for supermarket development.

Both men appeared to have lost a vote on a show of hands, but survived when the results of a supervised ballot - including proxy votes - were announced.

Members of the Shareholders Action Group expressed qualms on the night and a file has now been passed to the police who say an investigation will be started.

It is understood that one allegation refers to votes supposedly cast in favour of the board by a shareholder who had been dead for several months.

Peter Norbury, the solicitor acting for the group, said: "There are allegations which, if they were true, would be very serious allegations. Quite separately, we have suggested to Wigan that, as there are doubts about some votes, there should be a reconvened EGM and a new ballot."

Wigan are making no official comment on the allegations, but Robinson has warned that continuing action by the shareholders could jeopardise the club's ability to hang on to their Great Britain winger, Jason Robinson.

Robinson is due to join the Australian Rugby League at the end of this month, but wants to stay at Wigan if they can meet his wage demands - thought to be over pounds 1m for three years.

Robinson the player flew out as part of a 22-man Wigan squad for the first stage of the World Club Championship in Australia at the weekend. Wigan, who start next Monday against Canterbury, are treating Gary Connolly, Nigel Wright, Darryl Cardiss and Gael Tallec for minor knocks, but expect to select from a full-strength squad.

Mal Meninga, coach of Wigan's third opponents, the Canberra Raiders, has predicted an enthusiastic response to the competition in Australia.

"The British clubs will be coming here to prove a point," said Meninga, whose side meet Halifax on Sunday. "That makes them doubly difficult opponents.

"Our fans have been anticipating this tournament with great expectation and, because this is the first competition of its kind, not just in rugby league but probably in world sport, it is certain to attract a great deal of media attention for our game."

Halifax faced the most frantic schedule of any of the British clubs heading for Australia, flying out immediately after their defeat by St Helens on Sunday.