Club to release profile, written interview and filmed conversation with our new chairman David Sharpe throughout the day.
- David Sharpe unveiled as Wigan Athletic Chairman last week.
- Profile and first interviews to appear today.
- David Sharpe shares his birthday with FA Cup winning date, May 11.
The supporters were able to bid an emotional farewell to Dave Whelan prior to the match against Leeds United, and it was clear to see that the outgoing chairman had a tear in his eye as he made his address from the DW Stadium pitch – at the very centre of the stadium which is the cornerstone of his wonderful legacy to Wigan Athletic.
But if last week was about saying goodbye, this week should be about welcoming in David Sharpe, and today, the official Wigan Athletic website will be publishing three separate items for you to get to know your new chairman a bit better.
We start with a short profile.
DAVID SHARPE – AGE IS NO BARRIER
David Sharpe was born in Wigan on May 11 1991.
May 11 – a date which has immense significance for every Wigan Athletic fan, of course, with the club lifting the FA Cup at Wembley on May 11 2013 - that was some birthday for the new Wigan Athletic Chairman, then.
He estimates he has seen between 600 and 700 Latics matches, possibly more, starting as a young boy in the 1990s after his grandfather Dave Whelan purchased the club, back in the old Football League Division Three.
One of his first real memories is of Colin Greenall and John Deehan lifting the league trophy at Springfield Park in 1997 (pictured) – and he has been hooked ever since, attending as many games as he can alongside his family and enjoying the incredible journey up the divisions, into the Barclays Premier League, the UEFA Europa League and of course winning the FA Cup on his 22nd birthday.
“There are too many highlights to mention, too many great players and great matches,” he says, “but when you have watched your team beat the biggest clubs in the country, lift the FA Cup and play in Europe, those are moments we all want to repeat.
“Like every other Latics fan, I have lived through the disappointments, suffered like we all have because you can’t win every game. But if it wasn’t for those times, the great moments would never have felt as good. We know who we are, what we stand for and it’s that togetherness and belief that makes the club unique, and will get us back to where we all want to be.”
Over the past two years, the fan in him has had to make way for the business head, because it has been Dave Whelan’s stated intention to hand the reins over to him for some time.
As such, Whelan insisted on bringing David into his business from the youngest of ages, asking him to leave his business degree course at Oxford Brookes University early in order to have him work alongside him in Wigan.
Since then, as the 78-year-old Dave Whelan has increasingly taken a back seat in the running of the club, so David’s role has emerged: working at the highest level at the football club, involved in the key decisions regarding management, player recruitment and the day-to-day managing of club affairs.
He was elected on to the Board of Directors in December 2014 and when Dave Whelan made the announcement he was to call time on his 20 year tenure as Wigan Athletic Chairman in March 2015, it came as no great surprise within the club that the 23-year-old Sharpe was named as his successor – although the decision to appoint the youngest Chairman in the professional game has led to a few raised eyebrows in the outside world.
As to the future, David Sharpe’s vision is clear:
“The ultimate goal is to return to the Barclays Premier League,” he says. “We will also continue to prioritise plans to build a first class academy and training ground, where the club can start developing its own players to feature at first team level more regularly.
“We also need to create a modern and robust player recruitment process, where every targeted player is researched, statistically measured, and watched in different conditions to ensure we have a complete picture of the player and the person we are planning to sign.
“But we need to do all of this this in a structured way, inside a sustainable long-term financial framework.
“It won’t be easy and there may be some difficult times ahead before we are back on the right track but my grandfather’s legacy over the past 20 years is to show that anything is possible in football.
“Over that time, the club has created a platform for itself, and now the challenge is to move into the next era with confidence and ambition.”