Despite its somewhat diminutive stature, Wigan Athletic is a special little club; having repeatedly come out on top when the odds are stacked against them.
After climbing up from regional levels and making their way into the football league in the 1970s, The Latics enjoyed a meteoric rise under the regime of chairman Dave Whelan in the noughties; moving from the old Division Two to the Premier League in the space of three years.
It was wonderful to watch – temporarily diverting eyes away from the two big clubs in the region to gawp at the blue and white stripes making big waves in northern football.
Everyone expected Wigan to swiftly exit the door as soon as they entered – a la Grandpa Simpson – but they made themselves part of the Premier League furniture; remaining in football’s top tier for eight seasons.
During that final Prem campaign in 2013, they also battled their way to the cup final – facing billionaire-backed Manchester City in what was, on paper, a guaranteed drubbing.
We all know how that one ended. Again, Wigan stunned the football world – and it’s a memory that’s gone down as one the great all-time shocks of Mancunian football.
Two changes in ownership, however, have left the club unbalanced.
Despite passing the football league’s ‘test and takeover’ criteria, Wigan were left in the financial red zone by the most recent acquisition in 2020 – headed by Wai Kay Au Yeung, the frontman of Next Leader Fund (NLF).
Suddenly, the cards were stacked against The Latics once again. The football league deducted 12 points from their tally as Wigan went into administration, landing the club in the biggest battle of their existence.
Just days after that deduction, Wigan won 8-0. Their biggest league victory on record. They were still fighting.
They even resisted their deduction with a quarrel, but when the FL dismissed their claims (unfairly, some argue), it was confirmed the club would play football in the third tier for 2020/21.
At least, in theory. Wigan will only compete next year if a buyer can be found. And there’s just a matter of days left to raise the necessary funds.
According to administrators Begbies Traynor, if no agreement is reached by 31 August, considerations would have to be made as to whether the club can begin the new campaign.
Wigan need £500,000 by Monday. It’s a steep hill. But the good news is, they’re already more than a third of the way there.
All the local leaders – including MP Lisa Nandy, Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham are behind the cause. It’s over to us now.
A petition has been launched to raise the necessary money to keep Wigan alive.
Wigan Athletic Supporters’ Club stated: “We need to be READY to act in order to secure the future of Wigan Athletic. Not just a football club, but an integral part of our community that helps to improve thousands of lives across Wigan.
“We need to raise £500,000 by Monday 31st August from supporters and community pledges. Each pledge will make a difference and YOU will be rewarded with a place in our future for your pledge.
“This funding will be used to support the future of the football club with community-ownership and supporter representation and influence at the highest level.”
Wigan have given the game in Greater Manchester so much in terms of shock, glory, and enjoyment over the years. It’s time for us to do our bit and give back.
Football up here won’t be the same without Wigan Athletic.
The five-a-side app that’s helping people find pick-up football games in Manchester and all over the UK
Having a kick about is one of life’s simple pleasures. Just grab a ball, your boots, some mates and you’re good to go, right? That is until the inevitable excuses pop up on WhatsApp with an hour to go and suddenly you’re scrambling for a ringer to keep your so-called ‘weekly’ five-a-side match alive.
Another night is followed by the usual “Sorry, maybe next week” message and you’re left wondering why getting a footy game going with few friends isn’t as easy as it was when you were younger. If only there was an app for that…
For those in the know, there is one name that’s actually helping make sorting a regular five-a-side night or even a quick pick-up game in and around Greater Manchester that little bit easier and more social than ever.
Footy Addicts, the football-based social networking platform, are on a mission to make the beautiful game easier and more inclusive across the region and the UK at large.
The app, founded by self-proclaimed footy addicts Konstantinos Gkortsilas, Danny Taeidy and Jonathan Suarez, aims to make quality football matches — be it a straight-forward five/seven-a-side game or a bigger affair — happen across Great Britain and, if they carry on how they’re going, the world.
When you sit and think about it, it’s one of these ideas where you wonder, ‘How hasn’t this been thought of before?’ From the first unofficial pick-up game back in 2010 to what has now grown to a community of over 210,000 users across 140 active locations, the proof is in the pudding.
Not only is the demand obviously there but it just goes to show how important opportunity and accessibility are when it comes to playing the game so many of us love.
Footy Addicts’ biggest goal is ensuring that wherever you are, you’ll only be a button away from a game — and the stats don’t lie. Now growing by a rate of more than 5,000 new users each month with players from over 200 different countries, it just goes to show how a simple kickabout can help enrich diverse communities a game at a time.
Whether you are a first-timer, Sunday league Messi or ‘could’ve gone pro if it wasn’t for my knee’, there’s a spot on the team sheet for all abilities.
Just to highlight some of the regulars in the Manchester scene, this could be your squad lining up alongside you next time you stick a bib on under the lights: lifelong Burnley supporter James is still going strong at 70 and nutmegging students. You can’t drag him away from the pitch.
Marc used to ply his trade in the Premier League but now gets his football fix in a more casual setting and Nadia is a semi-pro female footballer who’ll happily show up the best of them.
The importance of running around after a ball for an hour or so is far more than the scoreline; it’s like therapy for the mind and body. The escapism, confidence and community that blossoms when you step on a pitch is what keeps the world hooked on the beautiful game. And, that’s not to mention the obvious physical benefits.
Available to download from the Google Play and Apple App Store, or by simply using their website, it’s not quite as easy as clicking your fingers but it’s close enough.
It goes without saying that Footy Addicts organise games all over Manchester. Just whack in your postcode and see if there is a place and time that suits you. It’s also pay-as-you-play, with no monthly subscriptions or signing-on fees, just dust off your boots and head down.
Prices start at only £3.50 a game with the average price of around a fiver, which in this day and age is great value for footy.
See you on a pitch in Greater Manchester sometime soon.
André Onana’s emotional reaction at full-time turns fan frustration into sympathy after another Man United UCL collapse
André Onana has had a rocky start to life at Manchester United and while supporters have been left swearing from the stands and at their TV screens several times already this season, his reaction at full-time following his latest howler has seen much of that frustration turn to sympathy.
The Cameroonian goalkeeper made yet another costly error on Wednesday night when his lack of concentration saw Man United’s 2-0 lead, thanks to two very fine finishes from Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes, somehow turn to 3-1 and eventually 3-3 — two of which were very preventable.
Onana was left unsighted by the wall and wrong-footed for the first goal which was whipped in from a Hakim Ziyech free-kick, but was left blushing even more when an almost identical delivery was fired at him in the second half, only to effectively push it into his own net and reduce the Red Devil’s two-goal cushion to one.
As commentator Darren Fletcher and pretty much everyone watching said at the time, “What on Earth is the Manchester United keeper doing there?!”. It really doesn’t make for great viewing…
Although mistakes like these could be forgiven in isolation, as one-offs or more widely spread out over a longer period of — many Reds had grown accustomed to watching their previous number one, David de Gea, making a gaffe or two in his time — for all of them to happen in the space of just a few months doesn’t help.
In the Champions League alone, Onana has seven individual unforced errors leading to goals (four more than any other player) and in a knockout competition against the best teams in Europe, you simply don’t have enough games to make up for mistakes like that.
That being said, as opposed to the usual reaction from supporters on social media that we have seen so far this season, a large proportion of fans and neutrals alike weren’t berating him but were instead expressing their sympathy — especially after seeing Onana‘s visibly upset reaction after full-time:
On the other hand, not everyone was so forgiving and to further sum up how things are going for the United keeper, both in terms of his bad luck and the pity plenty are now starting to feel for him, there were countless posts online dubbing him “the new [Harry] Maguire”, who had previously been a scapegoat and a target of abuse at both club and international level.
In contrast, while the England centre-backs’s performances have started to improve, a goalkeeper’s mistakes are always going to be even more highlighted as although defenders usually have the man between the sticks as a last stand, when it goes wrong it usually results in conceding a goal.