RACE SLUR DID SWAY MOVE TO QUIT, SAYS WHELAN
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That infuriated Ollie, who accused the Old Bill of peddling an outdated stereotype.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.
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.
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