Belfast Telegraph

Biting back: Dave Whelan no racist but he's now in a nightmare

By John Laverty

I've met Dave Whelan a few times and he always came across as a throughly decent sort. That opinion hasn't really changed despite the flurry of negative headlines about the Wigan Athletic chairman.

I find it hard to believe that Whelan is xenophobic, or a racist.

He is, however, an old man who grew up in an era when people thought that 'political correctness' meant remembering your party's manifesto at the hustings.

Whelan's cack-handed attempt to defend new Wigan manager Malky Mackay was embarrassing, and brought humiliation down on a man who tried to diffuse a situation but ended up making it much worse.

Now there are calls for Whelan - who turned 78 today, incidentally - to be officially deemed unfit to run a football club.

This despite the fact that he has run Wigan remarkably well over the last two decades. Indeed, what they have achieved under his stewardship is nothing short of astonishing.

Those people who want him punished by the Football Association will probably get their way, because what he said about Chinese and Jewish people was unacceptable and indefensible, something he has now acknowledged courtesy of an effusive and contrite apology.

It certainly isn't okay to say what Dave Whelan said and expect to walk away from the controversy unscathed.

Wigan may have become a fairytale club thanks to the the generosity and hard work of the self-made tycoon, but the timing of his appointment of Mackay, and his subsequent remarks, are the stuff of nightmares.

Belfast Telegraph


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