Dave Whelan: Wigan owner sorry for newspaper comments

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Dave Whelan - Full BBC interview

Wigan owner Dave Whelan has apologised for remarks he used in a controversial newspaper interview.

In defending new manager Malky Mackay, Whelan made comments about Jewish and Chinese people described as "offensive" by West Ham owner David Gold.

"If I have upset one person, I apologise," said Whelan, who believes he was misquoted by The Guardian.

Anti-racism campaigner Kick It Out has questioned whether Whelan is a "fit and proper person" to run a football club.

To read a full transcript of BBC Sport's interview with Dave Whelan scroll to the bottom of this story.

Labour MP Ivan Lewis has also called for the Football Association to take the "toughest possible action" against the Latics chairman.

Whelan is quoted using the term "chink" in his newspaper interview. The Guardian also claims the 77-year-old businessman said: "Jewish people chase money more than everybody else."

Labour MP Ivan Lewis
"What we discovered yesterday was that Dave Whelan shares Malky Mackay's abhorrent anti-Semitic and racist views. In my view, the FA has to now take the toughest possible action against Dave Whelan."

But Steve Bruce, the Hull City manager who twice worked under Whelan at Wigan, has defended his former employer.

"I know him very, very well," said Bruce. "There's no racism in him at all.

"Sometimes words can be said which can be misplaced, they can be out there in the public domain, but certainly when I've worked with him there's been no sign of racism."

BBC Sport understands the FA is attempting to ascertain just what Whelan said before deciding what action, if any, to take.

Mackay is already being investigated by the FA following allegations he sent offensive text messages and emails while manager of Cardiff City.

In one of them, the Scot, 42, is alleged to have referred to Jewish football agent Phil Smith in a derogatory way when he said: "Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers."

Attempting to explain the appointment of Mackay, Whelan told The Guardian there was not a lot wrong with the content of the Scot's messages, going on to make his "Jewish people" reference.

BBC sports editor Dan Roan
"For many, Wigan owner Dave Whelan's appointment of Malky Mackay - and now his controversial comments in defence of that decision - will provide further evidence that professional football exists in a moral bubble of its own, which all too often appears to be out of touch with modern values.
"Increasingly, it's costing football, too, with commercial sponsors distancing themselves from football's world governing body Fifa over its handling of allegations of corruption, from Sheffield United after the decision to let convicted rapist Ched Evans train, and now from Wigan over Mackay.
"In the USA, the National Basketball Association banned Donald Sterling - the former owner of the LA Clippers - for life for racist comments. It will be fascinating to see how English football deals with Whelan."

He later insisted he was misquoted and did not intend any racial slight.

"All I was trying to say was that Jewish people are very similar to the English people in the desire to work hard and get money," he told BBC Sport's David Ornstein. "I didn't think I did anything wrong in that."

But Lewis, a former shadow secretary of state for Culture and also the ex-chief executive of the Manchester Jewish Federation, disagreed.

The Bury South MP told BBC Manchester: "What we discovered yesterday was that Dave Whelan shares Malky Mackay's abhorrent anti-Semitic and racist views. In my view, the FA has to now take the toughest possible action against Dave Whelan."

Lewis also urged the FA to "stop pussy-footing around" with its inquiry into Mackay and come to a resolution.

In his interview with The Guardian, Whelan also claimed he did not think the term "chink" - used in one of the text messages revealed to have been sent by Mackay - was necessarily offensive to Chinese people, although he said he would not use the word himself.

He reiterated that view in his subsequent interview with the BBC.

"I would never call a Chinaman a 'chink' personally," he said. "I don't use that kind of language, but other people do and you do hear it used.

"Everybody will say that, that they have heard that word used. It's not a word I would use anywhere in the world."

The Sun back page and Daily Telegraph sport section front page
The Sun (left) and Daily Telegraph (right) cover the story in their early editions on Friday

He added: "There are all kinds of names given to people, given to the English, to the Scottish, to the Welsh, to the Irish, to the Chinese.

"People use these words a lot in common conversations. A lot of this talk goes on all around the world and people accept it and take it, because I don't think that there is an insult meant."

Reacting to Whelan's comments in The Guardian, Kick It Out said: "The remarks act as another example of the culture which continues to exist within football and further proves that some in positions of power seem comfortable sharing those views either privately or publicly.

"These comments must not go unchallenged and have to be investigated by the Football Association."

West Ham owner Gold, who is Jewish, told BBC Radio 5 live he was "saddened" by what Whelan had said.

"I'm struggling to accept it and there it is in black and white," said Gold. "It's undeniable. I hope that in some way he retracts this because it is damaging relationships between him and many other people."

When Mackay was unveiled as Wigan manager on Thursday, Whelan said he had spoken to the FA and been given the impression the ex-Cardiff boss was not going to be punished.

However, Whelan later changed his stance.

"The FA has not given Wigan any assurances about the case," he said.

"We, as a club, have looked at the case and believe that he did wrong.

"The action I hope and think they will take is to fine him and he deserves to be fined. I cannot really see them putting a ban on him."

The FA has confirmed its investigation into Mackay is ongoing.

Kick It Out also said the FA needed to establish whether the Mackay case had been compromised by Whelan's comments.

The full transcript of BBC Sport's David Ornstein's interview with Dave Whelan

The following exchange contains words you may find offensive.

David Ornstein: Can you explain comments to David Conn in The Guardian?

Dave Whelan: "I was asked that question and I did say that the Jewish people chase money, but I also said that they chase money like the English people chase money. We all chase money because we work for it. Now, I wasn't being offensive to any Jewish… I have got thousands of Jewish friends, I would never want to offend one of my Jewish pals. I would never want to do that and, in this particular case, all I was trying to say was that Jewish people are very similar to the English people in the desire to work hard and get money. I didn't think that I did anything wrong in that."

DO: Did you say Jewish people chase money "more than" everybody else?

DW: "No. I did not say that the Jewish people chase money more than everyone else. I said that the Jewish people chase money just like we the English people chase money and I don't think there is anything wrong in chasing money because we work for it."

DO: Do you think the journalist has misquoted you?

DW: "I think he has misquoted me and if it is causing offence to anybody please accept my apology because I did not say that and I did not mean to insult any of my Jewish friends or any of the Jewish people. I have no hang-ups about people, I just get on with every single person, I just love the game of football and a lot of this comes about because we have to be careful what we say, but I always try and say and tell the truth."

DO: Do you accept there is a lot of controversy in response to your comments, that there may be people offending by your comments?

DW: "If there are Jewish people offended by what I have said, then I would apologise immediately and say I am sorry and did not mean offence to them. All my Jewish friends realise that I would never insult a Jewish person - I have no reason to. They are a great race of people. I do a lot of business with them. They are very honest people, hard-working people and I would never insult a Jewish person."

DO: Do you regret talking in that way at all?

DW: "No, I don't regret what I said. I always try and tell the truth. Sometimes when reporters.... and I must have had 50 reporters chasing me all day today... you can get a little flustered at times and you may say the wrong word or the wrong thing. If I have upset any single person, I apologise profusely. I do not intend to insult or upset any Jewish, any English or any person on the planet."

DO: There could be people who say a man in your position of power should no longer hold that position. What is your response?

DW: "That is a little unfair on me as I did not make these comments. If I have upset one person, I apologise. I did not mean to upset people. When you are interviewed... and I must have had 50 or 60 people interviewing me today... it is virtually impossible not to come out with some little statement or some word that is wrong. I would say to everybody, if I have upset any particular person, I did not meant to."

DO: Did you say: "If an Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink, he is lying"?

DW: "What I said it this... there are all kinds of names given to people, given to the English, to the Scottish, to the Welsh, to the Irish, to the Chinese and there are all kinds of words given and used. People use these words a lot in common in various conversations, a lot of this talk goes on all around the world and people accept it and take it because I don't think that there is an insult meant. You know if someone called me a limey, I wouldn't take it as an insult. Am I'm English? Yes. Am I a limey? Yes. But I wouldn't be insulted by someone saying that to me. If somebody says to a Chinaman, 'you're a chink', would he be upset about it? I don't know really. If he was upset, I would say I am very sorry, I won't call you that again."

DO: Do you accept that use of the word chink is more offensive than national references?

DW: "I accept that totally, I would never call a Chinaman a chink personally, I don't use that kind of language, but other people do and you do hear it used. Everybody will say that, that they have heard that word used. It's not a word I would use anywhere in the world."

DO: Is there a growing problem with what language is acceptable and what is not?

DW: "It would appear that is the case now because what I have said... I had no intention whatsoever to upset any person in the world. Some people, if they are upset, I have said I apologise and say I am very sorry, I did not mean in what I said to upset one single person. Please accept my apology if they take it that way, it wasn't meant to be."

DO: Do you fear the repercussions of losing a sponsor over the appointment of Malky Mackay?

DW: "We don't like losing sponsors, we have to admit that, but it is their decision and it is a free country and they are allowed to do what they want to do. It being a free country, I also feel that Malky Mackay did something wrong, he apologised, he's had education on it, is a very honest guy and I don't think that he should be banned from football, like other people do. I think he should be entitled to another chance and I feel Wigan have given him that chance."

DO: You said you have read every one of the text messages... did the content of those messages sit comfortably with you?

DW: "No. He said wrong things. He said things that I would never personally use, that are unacceptable and I would agree with anybody who complains about what he said. I have spoken to him, discussed it with him and said this is totally unacceptable. He admits that he did it and he apologised to me and he apologised to the whole nation. He can only do that and I accepted his apology and I hope everybody else in the country accepts his apology and then we judge him on his future."

DO: If he is found guilty by the FA, what will you do?

DW: "The FA investigation is not concluded, we've not had a result on it and a lot depends on what they say. Hopefully, they will forgive him. If they fine him, whatever, and if he's got to pay the penalty, so be it. And he deserves it. He admits that, I think we all admit that. But I'm not the kind of person who would say to somebody in football, 'you're banned from football for the rest of your life'. That's most unfair. All people in the UK will agree with that. You wouldn't ban a manager from football for ever, that's most unfair."

DO: Are you now saying the FA have given you no assurances about the investigation, contrary to what you said previously?

DW: "They have not given Wigan Athletic any assurances whatsoever about the case. We as a club have looked at the case and we, as a club, believe that he did wrong. He admits he did wrong and he apologises. The FA will take whatever action that they feel is necessary. The action I hope and think that they will take is to fine him and he deserves to be fined. I cannot see them really putting a ban on him or anything of that nature, but if they do we will obviously abide by the rules and we've got it in the contract that we can take the necessary steps whatever the FA decides."

DO: How do you feel these events have impacted on your reputation and the reputation of Wigan Athletic?

DW: "Firstly, Wigan Athletic... whatever has been done has been done by me and I should take the full responsibility. Wigan Athletic, whether I am there or I am not there, we are still a very, very honest football club. We will fight to do what is right at all times and obey the rules at all times, we are a very, very honest sporting club and hopefully Malky Mackay can come through this and lead Wigan back to the Premier League and that will satisfy every single person in Wigan I hope. My personal reputation is built on my personality and what I say. If I have upset anyone in this conversation about the Jewish people, I'm so sorry because I did not mean to upset one Jewish person. I have got thousands of Jewish friends and get on so well with the Jewish people. Over the world I've got thousands and thousands of friends and I would never insult any of them."

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