Dave Whelan has resigned as the chairman of Wigan Athletic after 20 years in charge, with his 23-year-old grandson David Sharpe set to replace him at the DW Stadium.
Whelan’s departure was announced in a statement on the Championship club’s website on Tuesday morning and comes shortly after he had served a six-week ban from football for racist comments made in an interview with the Guardian.
Sharpe will be formally elected as the new chairman by the board of directors at a date to be confirmed soon, and will be assisted by the chief executive, Jonathan Jackson. While the Whelan family will remain as majority shareholders, Dave Whelan will no longer be a part of the day-to-day operations at the club.
In a statement Whelan said: “The time has now come to hand over the reins. I am approaching 80 years old and spend an increasingly long time abroad, and cannot make it to games. It is a decision I have been mulling over for some years and I believe David is now ready.
“Contrary to some suggestions, there are no plans to sell the club, which will remain in family hands and I have every confidence that David, along with chief executive Jonathan Jackson, will lead us forwards with wisdom.
“In making this announcement, I would like to say huge thank you to the board of directors, all the staff at the club, and of course the wonderful supporters of Wigan Athletic, who have helped make the journey over the past 20 years such an exciting and memorable one.”
Whelan bought Wigan in February 1995 when they were still in the fourth tier of English football and he presided over the most successful period in the club’s history as they rose to the Premier League in 2005 and won the FA Cup in 2013 before being relegated at the end of the same season. They are second bottom of the Championship and facing the drop to League One.
He also oversaw the Latics’ move from Springfield Park to a new ground, initially known as the JJB Stadium, in 1999.