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Mar 3, 2011

Whelan: Wigan's future will be secure

Wigan owner Dave Whelan has told ESPNsoccernet that he is happy to continue funding the club and stressed that, when the time comes for him to eventually leave, he will ensure the Latics are in safe hands.

Whelan, 74, has been at the Wigan helm for 16 years, in which time he has overseen the transformation of the club from Division Three minnows to a consistent Premier League outfit.

However, Roberto Martinez's side are currently facing a relegation scrap and the club recently announced a £4 million loss, prompting questions from auditors about whether Wigan would be able to survive were Whelan to end his association with the club.

But the one-time Blackburn Rovers left back, who made his millions from sportswear giant JJB Sports, has promised he will continue to keep the club afloat with his own money, insisting that he will only "give it away" to someone who shares his passion for football.

"No, there are no worries about the club surviving while I'm around," Whelan told ESPNsoccernet. "The trouble is I might not be around for much longer, as I'm pushing 75. If it means being around to prop up the club for the next three to five years, then so be it, but I am looking to pass the club on.

"When I say pass it on, I mean give it away, yes. But I will only give it away to the right person. I remember when Sir Jack Hayward gave away his beloved Wolves for £50, and I will do the same with Wigan, but the right person would have to love this club and keep it going and show me that he can do that.

"As it stands, there is no danger to this club, I'll see to that, but we cannot post losses - it has to run on business lines, it has to live within its means. The bottom line though is that, while I cannot go on forever, there is no chance of this club being sold to just anybody. It will have to be the right person for the right reasons.

"The accounts say that I am propping up the club personally and they are probably right! Why do I continue to do this? Well, I love football, and I love this club. I earned my first pound note playing football, and I owe it to football to keep Wigan alive."

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