Darren Royle excited by new era at Wigan Athletic and stresses the importance of the club’s supporters and the local community.
- WATCH: Our first interview with Wigan Athletic executive chairman Darren Royle
- Darren Royle on IEC’s ownership of Wigan Athletic, the club’s supporters and the importance of the academy and Wigan Athletic Community Trust in the club’s new era
- Royle: “I have been fortunate to witness some great moments at this club in the last 12-18 months and I know how important this is to the town – I have family in the town – and Wigan Athletic is a huge part of the community.”
Wigan Athletic executive chairman Darren Royle says the club’s supporters and the local community have a huge role to play in the new era for the club under the ownership of International Entertainment Corporation (IEC).
Speaking to iFollow Latics in his first interview with the club, Royle said:
“The supporters are hugely important, without the fans, what is the club?
“I have been fortunate to witness some great moments at this club in the last 12-18 months and I know how important this is to the town – I have family in the town – and Wigan Athletic is a huge part of the community.
“Football is a pillar of our community and when you look at the work Wigan Athletic Community Trust are doing in our local area, they are punching well above their weight. They are not sitting on their laurels either and they want to further increase the relationship with the local community.
“We are looking to work closely with the fans as well to understand more what they want and require and that will help everybody in the plan and the dream to get back to the Premier League.”
Royle has been a week into the job as the club’s executive chairman and he says he is privileged to have opportunity to help shape the club’s future under IEC.
“It is an exciting challenge; I use the word challenge because the Championship is such an uncertain and volatile league at the moment,” Royle explained.
“There are six teams that aren’t going to be in the Championship at the end of the year and nobody knows yet who the three going up and three going down are going to be because everybody appears to be beating each other.
“I think that creates a great opportunity for Paul Cook, who since he has come in has managed the process from a side that was relegated fantastically well and there is now a momentum and a confidence. We have to try and build on that.”
On IEC’s plans, Royle wasn’t hiding the fact the aim for the football club is to return to the Premier League.
However, he assured supporters there will be a planned and progressive approach to bringing top-flight football back to Wigan.
“A progressive approach is what IEC would like to pursue and that ties in with the manager’s plans as well,” Royle continued. “He wants to be loyal to those players who got us into the Championship in the first place and those players have really developed.
“It is about building on that success, adding to the team if and where appropriate, but not disruptively, like we have seen elsewhere in the past. We also have to be mindful that the club has to be run properly from a financial perspective.
“There will be funds invested to try to help and develop the squad and the club as well, in terms of infrastructure and that’s massively important, but it has to be done in a measured way.
“Equally so, I think for Wigan Athletic the academy creates a huge opportunity; the north-west is a powerhouse of football and we can provide a niche in our area in terms of creating a pathway, which is something Gregor Rioch and Paul Cook are trying to further develop.”