At this time, seven years ago, Wigan Athletic were still basking in the bright silver limelight cast by their newly-acquired FA Cup trophy.
Their shock 1-0 victory over the champions of England had been one of the greatest final upsets in the history of the competition – with Ben Watson’s last-gasp header sealing the Latics’ first major accolade in 80 years and plunging the tiny Greater Manchester town into delirium.
The celebrations, quite rightly, went on for weeks.
Locals knew how to throw a football party. By 2013, scenes of intense jubilation among supporters had become something of a semi-common occurrence.
Wigan, traditionally known as a rugby league town, had succumbed to football fever during their epic journey to the top tier in the noughties – and their FA Cup triumph ensured the club would forever hold a place in the history books.
But today, Wigan fans aren’t dreaming of silverware. They’re not even thinking about winning the next match.
They just want to finish the season.
On July 1, news rolled in that the Latics had entered administration – with an imminent 12-point deduction from the EFL all set to send them bottom of the Championship.
A series of financial issues had been pushing the club to the brink for several months, and coronavirus was the final nudge needed to knock them off the cliff.
Wigan’s money woes were well-known, but the announcement still came as something of a shock to many in the footballing world.
Only last month, Hong Kong businessman Wai Kay Au Yeung, of Next Leader Fund (NLF), took full control of the club – with executive chairman Darren Royal claiming this would “negate some of the immediate” damages caused by the pandemic.
The owners passed the EFL’s test and takeover process – which ascertains whether the buyer can financially support a club.
But within weeks, the survival of Wigan Athletic has been left on a knife edge.
Board members are dealing with administrators at Begbies Traynor as we speak – scrambling to find interested parties to save the side.
Wigan enjoyed a fairytale rise to the golden land of the Premier League under former owner Dave Whelan, with the tactical shrewdness of manager Paul Jewell fuelling the firepower of strikers Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts to propel the Latics into the Premier League.
Defying expectations to finish 10th in their debut season, Wigan would remain part of British football’s 20 elite clubs for eight seasons – stunning City in 2013 to lift the FA Cup against all odds and competing in Europe the following year as a result.
The Latics have yo-yo’ed between the second and third rung of the EFL in the past decade, with Whelan stepping down as owner in 2015 and handing the reins to his grandson, David Sharpe.
International Entertainment Corporation bought the club in 2018, but sold off their shares to NLF a little over one month ago.
Wigan’s recent past has been remarkable, but for now, their future appears uncertain.
Fans will be under no illusions as to the gravity of the situation, with the tragic plight of not-too-distant neighbours, Bury, still fresh in the minds of football followers across the country.
Nonetheless, as history has taught us, these next few weeks will see rivalries set aside to provide Wigan with the support they need.
The whole of Greater Manchester – even Manchester City fans who had their hearts broken by the bulge of the net at Wembley in 2013 – will be behind them.
Wayne Rooney confirms he has had offers to take part in a boxing match
England and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has confirmed that he has indeed had talks and been offered the possibility of taking part in a boxing match at some point in the future.
While most people know him as one of the greatest British footballers of all time, some might also be aware that Rooney was indeed a bit of a boxer in his younger days and even fought at his local amateur club to a decent little pedigree — that’s according to Eddie Hearn, at least.
The Matchroom Sports promoter got rumours that Wazza might get in the ring circulating after his own appearance on Gary Neville’s Stick to Football, claiming that he’d had calls from the retired footballer himself trying to set something up and now the retired striker seems to have confirmed it.
Speaking with the panel of ex-pro pundits on The Overlap’s latest show, the 38-year-old was quizzed by Neville and his Monday Night Football co-host, Jamie Carragher as to whether there was any truth in it — to which he simply teased, “You never know”.
Going on to explain the genuine discussions that have already taken place, Rooney said, “They’ve been in touch and have asked the question but at the minute I’m just focusing on getting back into management”.
When asked if it was an exhibition for charity or part of something else, he then went on to reveal that it isn’t just a case of one offer but multiple, in fact.
“There’s been a few and obviously that Misfits [Boxing] have been in [touch] and all of the news”, said United’s all-time leading goalscorer, but once again reiterated that his main focus is simply getting back on the touchline. Can’t lie, doesn’t really matter who he was fighting, we’d pay to see it.
Come on, we could hardly write this whole thing without mentioning that clip:
The Premier League icon insisted that he still loves boxing like his dad before him and that his “grandad still runs the gym in Crocky [Croxteth, Liverpool]” but making a prompt comeback as a manager is the first priority after being let go by Birmingham after just 83 days in charge.
As for who he’d faced up against, the likes of Logan and Jake Paul have both been banded about and given Misfits in the influencer and YouTube world — having been co-founded by KSI — who knows? All we know is that Wazza was a warrior on the pitch and we’re sure he’d be similar on the canvas.
You can watch Wayne Rooney’s full interview on Stick to Football down below:
Featured Images — The Overlap (via YouTube)/Sky Sports
Manchester City to host blockbuster Women’s derby at the Etihad Stadium
Man City Women are hosting one of the biggest fixtures in the football calendar and the third Manchester derby of this season already at the Etihad Stadium next month.
The Barclays Women’s Super League title race is seriously starting to hot up now. Both Manc teams went close to lifting the trophy in the 2022/23 campaign and have been setting record-breaking crowds every time derby day rolls around, so the excitement ahead of this huge fixture feels bigger than ever.
Blue vs Red is as old as it gets and simply cannot be missed.
Better still, as more eyes continue to tune into the WSL and matchdays at the Etihad and Old Trafford continue to deliver some of the best matchday atmospheres and value-for-money days out, with Man City set to make the pre-match excitement the best it’s ever been.
Gareth Taylor’s side took home bragging rights in both of the last two meetings between the teams, with an all-time record attendance for the derby at Old Trafford back in November 2023 and a huge win in the Conti Cup for the Blues last month.
The Joie Stadium has been a bit of a fortress for the home side but it goes without saying that playing under the lights across the campus at the Etihad itself, with what is no doubt going to be the largest and most pulsating crowd of the season, will serve as a huge motivation for City.
From the pyros and light shows, thumping music and drummers in the stands, to some of the best matchday scran and drinks you’ll find on-site anywhere in Greater Manchester for two-and-a-half hours up until kick-off at 12:30pm, we genuinely can’t wait for derby day on Saturday, 23 March.
City have now won eight on the bounce in the league but the big question is, can they make it three from three in the derby? A treble, if you will. Here’s how they faired in the reverse fixture in the Conti Cup:
The Etihad Campus fan zone has more on offer than ever too, taking the dedicated pre and mid-match festivities from league fixtures at Joie’s Stadium and doubling it at the men’s ground — there’s even going to be a dedicated kid’s fan zone this year too.
With soft play for the children and a dedicated kids’ fan zone on the indoor pitch at the City Football Academy itself; quizzes and interactive competitions where there are great prizes to be won, not to mention the chance to meet the much-loved Man City mascots, ‘Moonbeam’ and ‘Moonchester’, they’re going to have a blast and so are you.
Once again, even on derby day, watching Manchester City Women remains one of the most affordable ways to watch live sport and some of the best female talent anywhere in the region. It’s no wonder season tickets sold out but you still have time to grab a derby day seat on Saturday, 23 March HERE.