te in . we er it, n’t u sent England properly.”
Of course, owning 26 players is no burden in this era of bumper parachute payments. Relegated in May, Wigan will pocket £23m from the Premier League this season, £18m next term, then £9m in years three and four.
By contrast, the only cash Wigan’s opening-day opponents Barnsley – beaten 4-0 at Oakwell – receive is an annual £1.5m ‘solidarity’ payment from the Football League.
It is a gulf that threatens to create a two-tier Championship and Whelan is among those who would like to see the cash more evenly spread.
“I’ve never been against that,” he says. “Even when we were in the Premier League, I suggested it in meetings.
“But clubs in the Premier League are very, very obstinate. They like to keep what they’ve got and the big clubs are totally against it. At the very mention, it’s ‘Oh no, we can’t do that’. But, for me, it should be fairer.”
And with that, Whelan is off. But there is one last question. If Luis Suarez turned up at the DW and asked for a game, would Whelan really say no?
The eyes sparkle and a crease lines his face. “Well,” he says. “If he was going free, and he promised he wouldn’t bite me or anybody else, I would give it consideration!”