Wigan to share home

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
Wigan are to stay at Central Park, following an overwhelming vote of their shareholders in favour of staying at their home for the past 95 years.

Almost 300 supporters with a stake in the club rejected two other alternatives as a meeting at the ground on Saturday. Only 13 voted for a new ground in Wigan and some 42 for the board's preferred option, ground-sharing with Bolton Wanderers at their new stadium in Horwich.

The directors, who hold the vast majority of the shares, could have outvoted the small shareholders, but the chairman, Jack Robinson, said that they would abide by the meeting's decision.

The Central Park scheme, which gained 242 votes, will also involve ground- sharing. Its proponent is the Wigan Athletic chairman, Dave Whelan, who will buy Central Park for pounds 4m and spend pounds 11m on redeveloping the stadium.

That will mean rebuilding three stands to create a 20,000, all-seater stadium. Whelan's pounds 4m will also enable Wigan to pay off their current debt of pounds 3.3m.

Wigan Athletic will move from Springfield Park, on the opposite side of the town centre, to play at Central Park from the 1998-9 season onwards.

Whelan, who has tried and failed to get on to the rugby club board, will not become a director as a result of this deal, which he hailed as "a great day for both clubs in the town".

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