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 take over 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. 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 success. Wigan were bottom of the Fourth Division when Whelan purchased the club, but 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, four days before they were relegated from the top division. “The time has now come to hand over the reins,” he said in a club statement.“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.” Whelan added: “I would like to say huge thank you to the board of directors, all the staff at the club, and of course the wonderful supporters of Wigan Athletic, who have helped make the journey over the past 20 years such an exciting and memorable one.”