Wigan Athletic Chairman writes open letter to fans over future of club

"Liquidity issues" were blamed by the club for payment delays this month

Wigan Athletic's playing staff have been paid their overdue wages, while chief executive Mal Brannigan has stepped down at the Championship club.

"Liquidity issues" were blamed by the club for payment delays this month, before they were docked three points by the English Football League (EFL).

The players had issued an open letter earlier on Friday saying they had been "disrespected" by Wigan.

Wigan Chairman, Talal Al Hammad has written an open letter to fans following the recent speculation surrounding the club's future.

Talal Al Hammad in better times, celebrating Wigan being promoted Credit: PA

Al Hammad says: "Thank you for your incredible patience. Football clubs are driven by their fans and I have seen the passion and support you have shown this Club and our players.

"I am very conscious that the current uncertainty surrounding the club is not helpful and I hope this letter will add some clarity and transparency to the current situation.

"Firstly, I can now confirm our players wages have been paid.

"I can only apologise for the delay and the stress it’s caused the players and staff involved as well as you, the fans and wider stakeholders."

Steven Caulker posted criticism on his LinkedIn account Credit: Linked In, Steven Caulker

Defender Steven Caulker was critical of the club's ownership in a post on his LinkedIn page before the announcement that players had been paid and Brannigan's departure.

Al Hammad has added, "I think it is important to be as honest and open with you as possible.

"As the Club statement dated 10 March stated, we had a cash flow issue which caused the delay.

"This issue has now been resolved and I can assure you that the late payment of wages will not happen again. It simply cannot happen again.

"I appreciate you have heard that message from me before and as I said from day one and as you have rightly reminded me, “actions speak louder than words.” 

"That is something I now must prove to you and I must rebuild trust with our players, staff and of course, you, the fans. 

Chairman Talal Al Hammad says the club now needs to "rebuild trust with players, staff and of course the fans" 

"I will be in Wigan myself next week and I will be ensuring I am out in the community, to meet as many of you as I can in that time, to help start the re-build of that trust and move forward together.

"I will also be happy to address any questions staff, players, fans and partners may have, in person.

"I also want to inform you of a change at Board level with the news that Malachy Brannigan has left the Club.

"Mal has worked tremendously hard on leading this Club as Chief Executive through some of our darkest days.

"On behalf of the whole board and the Club, I want to truly thank him for his dedication and commitment to Wigan Athletic.

"Mal went on to help the Club achieve the prestigious Fan Engagement Award at both the prestigious Football Business Awards and the Sports Industry Awards events, before he was named as the fcbusiness CEO of the Year.

"It was not, by any means, an easy decision, but Phoenix 2021 and the Club have chosen to move in a new direction and a decision on Mal’s successor will be announced in due course.

"I have already admitted that mistakes have been made during my time here in my second full season as Wigan Athletic Chairman, but we now must look forward together and aim to finish the season as strong as possible with our manager Shaun Maloney at the helm.

"Shaun and his staff have worked relentlessly since he was appointed and we have all seen in the last few weeks the improvement in both the team and individuals.

"The connection between the manager, players and fans is back and this progress is the first step in our long-term journey together.

"He has my and the Board's full support.

"We have already held discussions, this week, whilst in Bahrain about next season, with firm plans in place.

"We will continue to work together in the summer to assess the squad before adding the right quality of player to aid our aims and ambitions next season, in-line with an agreed budget to ensure sustainability of the Club.

"It's important for us to be financially responsible going forward, and we're fully committed to doing so.

"Beginning next season, we'll operate within our means and we will prioritise maintaining a solid financial standing.

"Our strategies for the upcoming transfer window and beyond will take this into account and we're determined to build a sustainable future for the Club in line with a modern data-backed approach.

"At our Club, our Academy will play a crucial role in supporting the first team.

"We recognise the immense value of supporting our up-and-coming players through the academy system.

"We are wholeheartedly committed to providing opportunities for our young athletes to hone their skills and gain the experience they need to succeed.

"By investing in our Academy, we believe we will be not only securing the future of our club, but also continuing to create a clear pathway for our talented young players to make it through to the first team.

"We are confident that this approach will be a key factor in ensuring the long-term success of our Club.

"I finally want to re-assure all Wigan Athletic fans that Phoenix 2021 is 100% committed to the Club and we will do everything we can to achieve success together. 

"The support of our fans and the Wigan community is an incredible motivation for me.

"It will never be taken for granted."

The Chairman is due in Wigan next week to talk to stakeholders.