Dave Whelan: Wigan Athletic chairman resigns after 20 years

Dave Whelan
Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup in 2013 during Dave Whelan's spell as chairman

Dave Whelan has resigned from his position as chairman of Championship side Wigan Athletic.

The 78-year-old will stay as owner but his grandson, 23-year-old David Sharpe, will oversee the running of the club.

Whelan took over at Wigan in February 1995 and oversaw their rise from the fourth tier to the Premier League.

He was banned from football-related activity for six weeks and fined £50,000 in December for making racist comments after accepting an FA charge.

Whelan apologised but denied the remarks he made during a newspaper interview were racist and, prior to his punishment being announced, had stated that he would resign as Wigan chairman if he was "found guilty of being a racist".

The FA Disciplinary Commission said it was "satisfied" Whelan "is not a racist" and did not intend to cause offence by his comments.

Sharpe, who was appointed as a director in December, will be formally confirmed as Wigan chairman in the near future.

Wigan's numbers under Whelan
20 years (Feb 1995-Mar 2015)1 FA Cup (2013)
13 managers1 League Cup final (runners-up, 2006)
3 promotions (1997, 2003, 2005)1 Europa League campaign (2013)
8 seasons in the Premier League (2005-2013)1 Community Shield final (runners-up, 2013)

Whelan's reign as chairman ends with Wigan 23rd in the Championship and nine points from safety with 12 league games to play, but his impact on the club during his 20 years at the helm has largely been a successful one.

Wigan were bottom of the fourth tier of English football when Whelan purchased the club, but they won three promotions over the next decade to reach the top flight for the first time in their history.

The Latics spent eight consecutive seasons in the Premier League between 2005 and 2013 and lifted their first major trophy, the FA Cup, three days before they were relegated from the top division.

As well as their success on the pitch, Whelan also funded the construction of a new 25,000 all-seater stadium, which opened in 1999 at a cost of around £30m.

Roberto Martinez
Under Roberto Martinez (l), Wigan beat Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley to win the 2013 FA Cup

"The time has now come to hand over the reins," he said in a club statement.external-link

"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.

"Contrary to some suggestions, there are no plans to sell the club, which will remain in family hands and I have every confidence that David, along with chief executive Jonathan Jackson, will lead us forwards with wisdom."

Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who led Wigan to FA Cup victory in 2013 during his four-year stint as Latics boss, said it was "a shock" to hear Whelan had stepped down.

In his media conference ahead of Everton's Premier League game at Stoke on Wednesday, the Spaniard said: "I have been privileged to see first-hand how a successful and driven football man has given so much to the town and has created an incredible example for football.

"Any professional football club could have the dream of playing in the Premier League and winning a major trophy and he showed the way to do that. It is a great football story and I am sure it will inspire many generations to come."

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