Another fire sale, another relegation?


The January transfer window was approaching and Wigan Athletic had just lost their fifth game out of the seven they had cahmp-table-2014-15played under their latest manager. Their line up in that match against Sheffield Wednesday was studded with ex-Premier League players. They were playing a mid-table team with the lowest goals-for record in the division. Sadly it was not to be and Latics went down 1-0.  Callum McManaman’s sending off after 68 minutes surely being a contributory factor. The New Year of 2015 saw Latics second from bottom of the Championship with just 20 points from 24 games played.

There are clear parallels between the current New Year period in 2017 and that of a couple of years prior. Latics are once again second from bottom and their new manager yesterday suffered his seventh defeat in nine games in charge. Rumours are already floating around the social media of another fire sale of players, as happened in 2015. But surely the club has learned from recent history? Is another fire sale the answer to turning around the team’s fortunes?

But the fundamentals of the situation of a couple of years ago and that of now differ. In January 2015, the club did it as a means of drastically slashing its wage bill. Malky Mackay was the hapless manager who had to oversee it and patch up his squad, largely with young champ-table2017loanees and free agents on short term contracts. There was surprisingly little uproar from the fans at the time, with the likes of cup final heroes Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman and Ben Watson being dispatched at bargain prices. People had been so disillusioned by a perceived lack of effort from the players that many did not question that a big shake up was required.

The rumours of the next departures are already floating around the social media. Nathan Byrne to Charlton, Sam Morsy to Barnsley on a permanent deal, Will Grigg to any club willing to pay £2m for him, Adam Le Fondre’s loan from Cardiff to be cut short, currently linked with Scunthorpe. We will doubtless see many more rumours flying around the message boards in the coming weeks. Some will have substance, some not. Once again many fans will welcome a shake-up, with so many players in the current squad being labelled as League 1 players, not of Championship standard.

A current poll on Vital Wigan indicates that 56% of fans believe that Warren Joyce can turn things around if given time. A significant proportion cast the blame for the club’s current predicament on Gary Caldwell and his recruitment team. Others cite Joyce’s inexperience as a manager and the woeful tactics and team selections we have seen over the past couple of months. But how much longer will David Sharpe be willing to wait if Joyce cannot deliver over the coming weeks? Sharpe will hopefully have learned from two years ago when he left it too late in the season to rid the club of Malky Mackay.

Rumours suggest that Joyce is trying to sign 34 year old Dean Whitehead, an experienced higher leagues player, although his better days are behind him. The big question is whether Sharpe will back Joyce with the funds needed to bring in quality reinforcements, a task complicated by the fact that Latics are currently on track back to League 1. Given the recent pronouncements of Jonathan Jackson on the club’s finances it seems more likely that Latics will sell off their prime assets – certainly Will Grigg and possibly Yanic Wildschut – and bring in loannees and experienced players of the ilk of Whitehead on short term contracts. With the prospect of a return to League 1 looming, Jackson and Sharpe will be unwilling to speculate on big money and long term contracts to tempt quality players to come in.

The fire sale of two years ago led to relegation. Repeating such actions this month will surely lead along the same path.

There are dangerous times ahead in the coming weeks.


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7 responses

  1. Jonathan Jackson and his Prudent Financial management in action again ….
    Wigan Athletic have a number of morale boosting phrases dotted around their various sites. One is very apt and not heeded by the bods in charge.

    “Fail to prepare … Prepare to fail”

  2. I would have thought the club is about financial survival now and staying in the Championship with little hope of making the hyperdrive leap to the premiership is not a compelling reason to spend. If the head rules the heart they shift on what they can for profit when prices are inflated in the window. It’s almost as though Joyce has been advertising Janic in the lone role up front. Then second half of the season should be about youth, bringing in the next income stream to boost the coffers.
    Personally I don’t see Joyce going anywhere fast, they did a three year deal and he must have had some reassurancesto come. I doubt without Dave Whelan’s money Sharpe could have offered him much to play with in the window, but he could have talked about building from youth which after all is where Joyce’s skills are meant to be.
    I doubt it will be a fire sale as the wages won’t be so much greater than last year this time but I do think they will sell assets if they can make a turn regardless of the perilous position or the poor spectacle we are left with. Could end up being the only club with no fans but a positive balance sheet!

      • It would represent the only profit on a transfer that the club has had in the last two to three years. In that sense I agree with you, Phrilly, that it would be good business. However, a bigger fee might be more likely in summer and there is the matter of a relegation dog fight to deal with.
        The fire sale has not happened as such, but selling off your best players when you are fighting relegation makes no sense to me.

      • £7m fee for Janic is a massive boost to the finances. It effectively makes up the difference between the parachute payment this year and the solidarity payment next year.
        In the absence of the owners money, with a relatively small fan base and with other teams carrying over the recently inflated wealth of the Premier League the sale of players remains the only model that Wigan can adopt to build and sustain a run toward the premier league.
        The Janic sale is almost the text book example of good business. Yes it very much threatens survival this year and ultimately relegation may be the price to pay in the short term, but the longer term investment in youth, epitomised by the choice of manager and the investment in Euxton must be the over-riding choice. As I said originally the sale of Janic and the focus on young keen players over the second half of the season with a manager that knows how to get the best out of them is a prospect that I am looking forward to. No doubt one the huge crop of signings will flourish (in the same way Yanic did on loan) and we will look to secure their services more permanently. Hopefully the structured way we seem to be going about it will mean we will see more than one this time and the boost to finances will be greater when eventually we sell them on.

    • I should add I think its a sellers market in Jan and a buyers market in the Summer, selling Janic now with Norwich desperate to make that leap to the Premier League and with their own finances boosted by the sale of Brady is the ideal time to land the deal.

  3. I have been watching since non league days through thick and thin, but since the catastrophic managerial appointments, since relegation from the Premier League, of which the great Dave Whelan and now his Grandson Duncan Sharpe’s appointment of the hopelessly non charismatic scruffy manager Mr Joyce, and the knowledge we intend to spend no money in the transfer window, and therefore surrender our Championship status with a whimper, I think like a lot of my family already have done, this one downward slide I don’t fancy being on!!! I realise Dave Whelan has done great things for the club, but even he seems to have given up! And at the moment there is a deafening silence from Duncan Sharpe, after all the comments about how lucky we all are to have someone as great as Warren Joyce on board, he’s not even as good as Caldwell !! I am heartbroken !!

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