AFC Fylde owner fears for clubs' futures after Wigan Athletic's woes

AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite has expressed his shock at Wigan Athletic going into administration but fears more clubs will follow.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 12:30 pm
AFC Fylde owner David Haythornthwaite

The Coasters owner watched the rise of Wigan to Premier League status and FA Cup glory with admiration and viewed their former owner Dave Whelan as an inspiration.

Haythornthwaite said: “Wigan resonates a lot with me because I like to think I’ve mirrored what Dave Whelan has done in many ways

“I haven’t got close to his achievements but I started in the same vein with the same passion, and he is the first person I thought of.

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“He will be devastated. He built them a magnificent stadium and took them to the Premier League. It’s amazing what that man did. I’m very, very sad to see what’s happened at Wigan.”

The Whelan family owned Wigan Athletic for 23 years before a Far East takeover in 2018.

Though the precise circumstances surrounding Wigan’s plight are yet to be clarified, Haythornthwaite believes it demonstrates the issues facing all owners, particularly at a time when the coronavirus has taken a massive toll on clubs’ income.

He explained: “I’m sure (Blackpool owner) Simon Sadler down the road has discovered that owning a football club is great but it’s a costly exercise.

“You are only taking out of your pocket. That’s all you are doing every week. They are calling up every week: ‘Can you send me a cheque for this?’ ‘ Can you pay this?’ It’s all give, give, give.

“After a year you get tired of that and after two years you get really tired of it. For a lot of people who get involved, two years is usually the really testing time. A lot of people don’t get out because of pride because it’s a terrible thing to think you have failed.

“The first football club has gone to the wall and I don’t think it will be the last.

“There are a lot of things going on in football now where people are looking at costs, and conversations about salary caps are going on in League One and Two at the moment.”

And whereas Fylde have benefited greatly from the Government’s furlough scheme, Haythornthwaite acknowledges that, for a club like Wigan, that funding does not come close to meeting their needs.

He explained: “We have been able to furlough all our players and staff.

“We agreed to pay all our players 80 per cent of their wages and in most cases what we receive from the Government nearly covers the wages.

“But £577 a week is the maximum you can get from the Government, so for our few highest-paid players we have to make up the difference between £577 and their £800 a week (Fylde’s maximum limit was £1,000 a week before the reduction).

“Imagine the difference at Wigan, where you pay £5,000 a week and you still only get £577 for furloughed players, so they still have to pay that player £4,500 every single week with no income. That’s the problem every club is facing.

“A lot of these players are on two or three-year deals. We let four or five players go last week.

“They now don’t have a job and aren’t getting paid. It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s what’s happening all over the country.”