Wigan owner Dave Whelan accused of anti-Semitism

‘Jewish people chase money more than everybody else’ - Whelan

Dave Whelan has been accused of anti-Semitism after the Wigan Athletic owner told the Guardian he believes that "Jewish people chase money more than everybody else".

A Chinese community leader, Jenny Wong, also said Whelan was condoning racism by saying it is "nothing" to call a Chinese person a "chink".

Whelan said: “We’re all against racism in football”. However, he said the word “chink” is not offensive, and that he used to say it of Chinese people when he was young. “If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying,” Whelan said. “There is nothing bad about doing that. It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish Paddies.”

The comments came on the same day that one of Wigan’s shirt sponsors, the kitchen appliances firm Premier Range, announced it was ending its agreement with the club, describing its position as “untenable”.


Whelan was explaining his appointment on Wednesday of Malky Mackay as Wigan's manager, despite Mackay being currently under investigation by the English Football Association for alleged racism and anti-Semitism over his email and text exchanges while in charge of Cardiff City with the club's former head of recruitment Iain Moody.

The three texts or emails Mackay had sent, Whelan said, included one describing the Cardiff City owner, Malaysian Vincent Tan, as a "chink". In another, Mackay referred to the Jewish football agent, Phil Smith, saying: "Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers".

Whelan said he saw neither as offensive, nor did he consider offensive the other text for which he said Mackay was responsible, which referred to there being “enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go round”, when Mackay signed the South Korean international Kim Bo-kyung.

Whelan said he does not believe the reference to Smith is offensive, first explaining that he believed Mackay was only reflecting that Jewish people “love money” like everybody does: “The Jews don’t like losing money. Nobody likes losing money,” Whelan told the Guardian.

Asked whether he did not think what Mackay said was offensive, because the claim that Jews “love money” has been used as a negative stereotype, Whelan said: “Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do? I think they are very shrewd people.”

Asked if he himself believed that, Whelan, the multi-millionaire former owner of JJB Sports, said yes: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”

Whelan said he did not think there was “a lot wrong” with anything Mackay said, and there was no malice or disrespect in the statement about Smith. He added: “It’s telling the truth. Jewish people love money, English people love money; we all love money.”

His remarks were condemned by Simon Johnson, the former FA and Premier League executive, who is Jewish and is now the chief executive at the Jewish Leadership Council. "Unfortunately Mr Mackay and now Mr Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of anti-semitism and stereotyping of Jewish people," he said. "Mackay used offensive language to insult a fellow participant in football using a tawdry racial stereotype."

Wong, director of the Manchester Chinese Centre, an organisation devoted to Chinese community cultural understanding, said the word “chink” “is an insult, racist”.

“I remember at school in the 70s a skinhead kicking me, calling me ‘chinky, chinky’,” Wong said. “It has stopped now; things have changed for the better. We have legal protection against racism and that is important; it is not political correctness. As a football manager, this man should not have said it.”

Whelan told the Guardian he has been advised by two "influential" people at the top of the FA that "nothing will come" from the investigation into Mackay, largely because the exchanges were in private communications, which the FA chairman Greg Dyke has previously said are beyond the organisation's disciplinary processes.

Herman Ousley, the chair of football's anti-racism and discrimination organisation Kick It Out, has accused Wigan of "disregarding" the FA investigation, and he said it is "a disgrace" if senior figures at the FA have briefed Whelan that the investigation will not produce charges. Publicly the FA are not giving any guidance on the likely outcome, as the investigation is proceeding.

“If this is true, the FA has been found wanting yet again,” Ousley said. “To give that sort of advice would be acting in collusion with comments that have clearly damaged football, while leaving everybody else in the dark respecting that due process is taking place.”

Ousley believes that if private communications by public figures are exposed, they do have to be considered for a disciplinary process, and called on the FA to maintain a zero tolerance approach to racism and discrimination.

(Guardian Service)