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Feb 7, 2011

Whelan to write off £50m debt

Dave Whelan has told ESPNsoccernet he is ready to write off £50 million as he seeks to ensure Wigan are free of debt in advance of his eventual handover of the club.

Whelan purchased Wigan when they were in the bottom tier of English football in 1995 and has presided over their climb through the divisions, as well as overseeing the construction of the DW Stadium.

However, Whelan says his time as Wigan chairman will be coming to a close in "two or three years' time" and he is determined to clear the club's debt before relinquishing his ownership. In order to do so, he will turn £50 million owed to him into equity.

"It has been a fantastic time, I have enjoyed every minute of it, taking Wigan from the fourth division to the Premier League, and we have stayed there for six fantastic years," Whelan told ESPNsoccernet. "If we stay in there for another year, it will be like walking on water, because it's become such a competitive season this season. It's going to be tough.

"But whether we are in the Premier League, or even if we are in the Championship next season, I want this club to be in the best shape it can be. For that reason I am turning the club's £50 million of debt into equity. I already have 96% of the shares, so I am effectively giving the club the stadium. The ground cost £50 million to build.

"I am giving the rugby club a 50-year lease to play rugby on the ground, so I will be looking after both clubs at the same time. I am paying the £50 million as part of the reorganisation of the club which will be put to the shareholders at the AGM in a few weeks' time.

"I have always believed that a football club should be run with as little debt as possible, and now Wigan will have no debt at all. The £50 million debt will be written off.

"You know in two or three years' time I will have to hand over the place to someone else. I will then be 78 or something, and it's hard work running a football club. It's not as easy as people might think, scratching your head wondering what to do sometimes.

"I might leave it to the grandchildren, but it might be unfair to do so. It's a tough job, and they might not want it."

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