Wigan Athletic and Chelsea maybe 200 miles apart but they do share some connections on the playing front, of former or current Latics players eight have been employed by the West London club, one of these, ex-Latics keeper Bob Ward was the Physio at Stamford Bridge.
Dave Beasant, David Glenn, Mario Melchiot, Emerson Thome, are players who have worn both the blue of Wigan and the Blue of Chelsea, whilst Scott Sinclair was and Patrick Van Aanholt is on loan from Stamford Bridge, of course we bought current player and this seasons leading goal scorer Franco Di Santo
Ian McNeil, who was Latics first ever Football League manager also had a spell as assistant manager at Chelsea but the most intriguing of all connections for me is that of 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.
Bates turned the fortunes of Chelsea around, along with others, and set up the deal to bring in Roman Abramovich which wiped off Chelsea’s £80 million debt and set them up as one of the Worlds top clubs
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
Franco Di Santo joined Chelsea after emerging as a talent for the future when he starred for his club Audax Italiano in the Copa Liberatos at just 17 years of age.
Di Santo joined Chelsea as a very promising youngster, but with just 8 appearances and no goals, it didn’t happen for him at the West London club, so Roberto Martinez paid the extravagant sum of just £1 million for the Argentine striker in the summer of 2010 to bring him up north to the DW Stadium.
It’s fair to say that his first season in Wigan was a little disappointing, there is no denying that Di Santo is a talented lad, his work rate and endeavour are spot on but he just couldn’t score, he didn`t look like he was ever going to score, so when he had a tap in against Sunderland at the back end of last season, it appeared that a huge weight had been lifted off the young lad’s shoulders.
He started this season as first choice striker and responded magnificently scoring four goals so far this season and looking dangerous when on the ball, he had a double against QPR which won the game for us, his strike gave Latics the lead away at Everton and he scored the winning goal at Sunderland last month
Recently he has been suffering from a niggling injury that has restricted his appearances but now that he`s found his goalscoring touch, Di Santo should be in for a fruitful season
Franco pops in the winner at Sunderland
By permission of Bernard Platt/Wigan Athletic
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