With Wigan Athletic and Chelsea set to face each other at Stamford Bridge on Saturday I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the connections between the two clubs.
The Latics and Chelsea don`t share too many connections on the playing front, ex-Latics keeper Bob Ward was the Physio at Stamford Bridge, whilst former Latics striker Gary Worthington was a coach with the Chelsea academy.
Dave Beasant, Franco Di Santo, David Glenn, Mario Melchiot, Scott Sinclair and Emerson Thome are players who have worn both the blue of Wigan and the blue of Chelsea
Ian McNeil, who was Latics first ever Football League manager also had a spell as assistant manager at Chelsea working under John Neal in the early to mid 1980`s, McNeil was credited with signing Kerry Dixon, Pat Nevin and David Speedie for Chelsea, but the most intriguing of all connections is that of current Leeds United chairman Ken Bates.
Ken Bates was a director of Wigan Athletic when in 1982 he bought Chelsea football club for the princely sum of £1 but also took on the huge debts that Chelsea had at this time. He turned the fortunes of Chelsea around, along with others, and set up the deal to bring in Roman Abramovich which wiped off the clubs £80 million debt and set them up as one of the Worlds top sporting institutions
Bates had to give up his directorship of the Latics under football league rules when he took over at Chelsea, but said on leaving that the Latics would always have a special place in his heart and that he would never seem them in trouble.
By the late 1980`s Latics were in serious financial trouble and in danger of going out of business, in 1991 Stephen Gage, Ken Bates` son-in-law, bought an ailing Latics off the much maligned Bill Kenyon and steady the ship.
By 1995 the club had settled so much as to be an attractive proposition for current Chairman Dave Whelan and the rest as they say is history.
So Ken Bates has had a major part to play in both Latics and Chelsea`s recent history and it`s fair to say that neither club would be where they are today if it wasn`t for his foresight and guidance
Latics and Proud
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