David Sharpe celebrates one year as Wigan Athletic chairman.
- One year anniversary for David Sharpe as Latics' chairman.
- The chairman talks about his first year in the position.
- David Sharpe took over as chairman on 3 March 2015.
"It has gone quickly, yes, and I haven’t got any grey hairs yet which is an added bonus! All is well at the club at the moment, the team are doing well on the field and we are in a good place albeit there is a lot of work still to be done.
"We obviously suffered relegation in my first two months as chairman which wasn’t nice but it created a challenge that we have taken in our stride since and I have fully embraced.
You had a plan when you were appointed as chairman, is the club where you expected it to be now?
"I think when I became chairman it was almost an inevitability that we were going to be relegated from the Sky Bet Championship, it didn’t take a genius to work that out because we were eight points from safety with four or five games remaining.
"It would have been great to stay up in the short-term but we then set about a long-term plan to develop the club by getting a new training ground – something we have acquired just recently – and then achieve a better standard at academy level and, again, we just recently played Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup fifth round and took them all the way to extra-time.
"The major task, though, was to improve the first team and have a total reshuffle and reorganisation of our playing squad. We put Gary in charge of that and he is doing a fantastic job, I hope that continues.
"Financially we remain in a healthy position; we were very sensible in the summer in terms of the players we recruited and given new contracts to and those that we decided to part ways with.
"We have had to be ruthless, and that isn’t easy because we lost some experienced players along the way but we have got good people within the club who are moving us in the right direction, people like Jonathan Jackson, Matt Jackson and Gary, Graham Barrow and the coaching staff.
"We had a busy summer and a busy January and now we feel like we are in a good place."
You mentioned the training ground, just how important was it to acquire the facility at Euxton?
"It was massive for us, and something I really wanted to do. Christopher Park is great and it has served us well. The pitches up there are fantastic and the ground staff do a great job but the building itself is not built for purpose in terms of the numbers of staff we have now.
"The Euxton facilities give us a better gym, more changing areas, a better canteen and more office space – which in turn allows us to strengthen our recruitment and analysis departments.
Hark back a year to your first few weeks in the job and to now, you must be delighted with the positive environment created around Wigan Athletic?
"It is brilliant. Our supporters have been brilliant to me and they have backed Gary and the team superbly both here at the DW Stadium and away from home.
"I hope they can see how much we care about the club; I am a fan of the club - I always will be – Gary has been here for six years now and understands what the club is about and I think the players are showing how much they care too, which I think is a characteristic that you don’t see too often in modern day football and you can tell it means everything to them.
"The fans play a big part, though, and I look back to the final ten minutes in some of our games this season at places like Walsall and Chesterfield and here against Swindon Town and Millwall and it felt like our fans sucked the ball into the goal for us on each occasion.
Just on the playing staff, how pleased have you been with the way they have connected with the fans and is that something you considered when you set about recruiting a new squad in the summer?
"It was certainly important to us to get the right people into the club at all levels. Myself and Gary sat down and discussed how we were going to rejuvenate the squad in the summer and we looked at many different characteristics.
"We wanted people who cared massively about the game, players who weren’t just arriving for a pay day and players who want to take their career to the next level.
"There’s not just great characters in the dressing room, though, is there? You have some real talent in every position too.
"It’s a very strong squad and the average age is quite low too, which bodes well in terms of development and our club’s future.
"Jussi brings that average age up a bit! But in all seriousness he is great to have around the place because he is experienced and he will help us to bring the potential through."
How confident are you of achieving your aim of promotion as we enter the final two months of the 2015/16 campaign?
"We have got massive potential in the squad and we’ll hopefully now have a good end to the season and then in the summer we will only need to add small bits to be a force going forward in another division but, as I said earlier, there is still a long way to go.
"It is a massive two months for the club now and me and Gary have agreed that winning games isn’t an achievement, winning promotion is an achievement.
"We need the fans right behind us now and hopefully we’ll all have a good May 8."