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30/07/07

Maurice Lindsay Announces His Intention to Step Down at the End of this Season

Wigan Club Chairman, Maurice Lindsay, today made a statement about his future at the Club.

"I have made a decision that this will be my last season as Chairman of the Club. It is not a decision taken lightly as I first joined the Board in 1979. I think it is fair to say that the Club was close to bankruptcy at that time and was enjoying little success. I think it is also fair to say that I played a major part in putting matters right and the Club became a major success once again.

There is, however, a time for everything. I am 66 years old and as many people know my health has suffered in the last couple of years. My Doctor has constantly stressed to me that I should take more care of my health. It, therefore, probably needs someone else to take the Club forward for the next 10 years.

I have today had a long discussion with the Club Owner, David Whelan. If it helped the Club, I was prepared to leave now but David has asked me to stay until the end of the year. He himself does not want to take on the role of Chairman as well as being Chairman of Wigan Athletic.

Mr Whelan also advised me that he had been approached by a genuine Wigan fan who was interested in buying the Club. He is giving this matter his consideration but would only make a decision if he was confident that the Club would be in safe hands.

The defeat against Catalans on Sunday was very difficult to take. To miss the opportunity of going to Wembley and follow up the historic 1929 visit was a dream that I had privately held since the old Wembley shut down. That dream has gone and it is probably the right time to step down and let someone else continue.

There are lots of good things happening at the Club. We have just invested almost £2m in a new state of the art training venue at the old Orrell Rugby Union ground. It is probably the finest training complex anywhere in the rugby world. The players have everything at their disposal, right down to a full time chef. They have the best medical team that anyone could ask for and the coaches have every technical aid that they could wish for.

Alongside this magnificent training facility, our U21 and U18 sides are both having great success in their respective leagues. I hope that the next Wigan stars come through the ranks in the way that so many have in the past. I am sure that Mick McIlorum will be a household name in time to come.

I will now remain at the Club until the end of the season to ensure a smooth handover. I have discussed the matter with David Whelan and I have to say that his contribution to Wigan Warriors has been immense. Very few owners in Rugby League have been as generous as Dave in his support. The game of Rugby League too often undervalues the financial contribution made by individuals. There is not sufficient commercial sponsorship of the game whereby we can do without individual investors.

Finally and most importantly, the fans at Wigan, in the last 2 years, have shown tremendous support and we are now the best supported club in the land. Sunday was a bitter pill for them to swallow and I share their disappointment.

No-one however, can go on forever. I almost certainly would have called it a day at the end of the season. Wembley would have been a good place to bow out but it was not to be.

My stay at the Club has given me tremendous pleasure throughout my life. I have made great friends, not least my staff who have remained loyal and steadfast throughout. My friendship with past players has remained solid and true. I have so many memories of success. I will always remain a supporter of Wigan and I am sure that success is not far away."

David Whelan added,

"Maurice approached me this morning and offered to retire immediately. I asked him to stay until the end of the season. The F.A. Premier League season is about to start and I could not properly do both jobs. Maurice has been integral to the success of Wigan and his contribution, both here at the Club and to Rugby League in general, will be hard to match.

I also advised Maurice that I had been approached about a possible takeover of the Club. I did not intend to sell but if Maurice has made his mind up to retire then it is probably timely for me to consider my own position here. I will now consider the offer but I am pleased that Maurice will stay until the matter is resolved. I will only release my shares to someone who believes in Wigan as much as Maurice and I do".

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