RACE SLUR DID SWAY MOVE TO QUIT, SAYS WHE­LAN

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - Chris Dunlavy

DAVE Whe­lan ad­mits his ban for us­ing racist lan­guage con­trib­uted to his de­ci­sion to re­tire as chair­man of Wi­gan – but the 78-year-old says the Lat­ics are in safe hands.

Whe­lan will re­main owner of the club he took over in Fe­bru­ary 1995, but his grand­son, 23-year-old David Sharpe, will over­see the run­ning of the Lan­cashire out­fit.

Whe­lan mas­ter­minded Wi­gan’s rise from the fourth tier to the Pre­mier League and the 2013 FA Cup suc­cess against Manch­ester City, but re­cent con­tro­versy has over­shad­owed his ten­ure.

He was banned from foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­ity for six weeks and fined £50,000 in De­cem­ber for mak­ing racist com­ments about Jewish and Chi­nese peo­ple.

And Whe­lan claims he was swayed by the events of the past few months.

“It has brought re­al­ity back in to my mind,” said Whe­lan.“While I was away I gave it a lot of con­sid­er­a­tion. And that charge did hurt me, there’s no ques­tion.

“The FA came to the de­ci­sion that I wasn’t a racist, but they fined me £50,000 and banned me for six weeks. I could not un­der­stand what that was all about. If I’m not a racist why did I have to have those pun­ish­ments?

“Young David will be­come chair­man. I’ve had him work­ing at the club for the past 12 months. I have ev­ery con­fi­dence that David, along with chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonathan Jack­son, will lead us for­ward with wis­dom.”

POOR Ian Holloway. Mill­wall’s play­ers have been mak­ing a mug of him all sea­son. Now, sadly, their ‘fans’ are at it, too. Last month, West York­shire po­lice placed so many re­stric­tions on trav­el­ling sup­port­ers that the Li­ons took just 200 to El­land Road.

That in­fu­ri­ated Ollie, who ac­cused the Old Bill of ped­dling an out­dated stereo­type.

“I don’t get it,” said Holloway. “It’s only when we play Leeds. It’s not an is­sue any­where else. Years ago it was fash­ion­able to do cer­tain things, but we’ve moved on. For me, West York­shire po­lice, get off your arse and don’t treat our sup­port­ers dif­fer­ently to any­one else. How many years are you go­ing to put that on us?”

Then a cou­ple of hun­dred nut­ters de­cided to rip it up in Rother­ham and leave Ollie look­ing like Com­i­cal Ali as the tanks rolled in.

Rep­u­ta­tion

Just like they did at Wem­b­ley in the FA Cup semi-fi­nal against Wi­gan. Just like they did be­fore that in­fa­mous League Cup clash with West Ham.

Time and again, we hear Mill­wall say their rep­u­ta­tion is un­de­served. Time and again, a small mi­nor­ity of id­iots drag them back into the gut­ter.

I was at the New York Sta­dium last Satur­day. I saw the twisted faces, the punches and kicks, the ste­wards cow­er­ing and the fans in the fam­ily stand – yes, the fam­ily stand – back­ing away in ter­ror.

I saw a fe­male stew­ard laid prone out­side the ground, tended by paramedics as blood flowed from her scalp. I saw dis­abled fans shielded by friends as bricks and coins rained down.

Say what you want about the hooli­gans of the 80s but at mind­less and in­dis­crim­i­nate.

They weren’t hooli­gans. They were just d***heads, the kind we’ve all seen on the lash in ev­ery city from Can­ter­bury to Carlisle. They don’t go to drink, ban­ter and pull. They go to get lairy, start bother and knock some­one out. A lout is a lout whether he’s wear­ing a foot­ball shirt or his finest Fred Perry.

Don’t start with that ‘We were pro­voked’ non­sense, ei­ther. What is this, pri­mary school? Whin­ing ‘They started it, Miss’ doesn’t re­ally cut the mus­tard when you’re talk­ing about women and OAPs get­ting clob­bered. Es­pe­cially when the ‘provo­ca­tion’ was a bit of chant­ing.

And who are th­ese hu­man plank­ton? Not real sup­port­ers. A rudi­men­tary trawl of mes­sage boards and twit­ter feeds will tell you that. The real fans – the ones who spend their Satur­days watch­ing foot­ball in­stead of spoil­ing for a fight – are more dis­gusted than any­one.

Con­se­quences

They should be, too. Be­cause ev­ery time th­ese im­posters hit the head­lines, they suf­fer the con­se­quences.

How long will it be be­fore more po­lice forces fol­low West York­shire’s lead? How long un­til they start charg­ing dou­ble to over­see Mill­wall games? How many po­ten­tial spon­sors saw the pic­tures from Rother­ham and thought ‘Hmm, maybe not…’?

It’s in­cred­i­bly sad be­cause I know Mill­wall are a good club with an un­ri­valled record in the com­mu­nity. I know the ma­jor­ity of their fans are wel­com­ing and friendly. I know be­cause a good mate of mine moved to South Lon­don from New­cas­tle, at­tended a game with a pal from work and is now wel­comed as an hon­orary Lion.

That’s why it is vi­tal the per­pe­tra­tors are rooted out. Mill­wall have, of course, pledged their full co­op­er­a­tion. Po­lice are study­ing CCTV. And I would sin­cerely hope that any Mill­wall fan who recog­nises some­one in­volved puts tribal loy­alty aside and shops them with a cold heart.

Be­cause while thugs still op­er­ate un­der a Mill­wall ban­ner, gen­uine fans will suf­fer. And, even­tu­ally, peo­ple like Ollie will get tired of be­ing let down and stop stick­ing up for them.

least they fought amongst them­selves. Their bat­tles were pitched in back al­leys and empty carparks, their tar­gets like­minded thugs. This lot? It was

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