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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 March, 2005, 15:21 GMT
Wigan in fear of ground closure
Wigan's JJB Stadium
Wigan's JJB Stadium has a 25,000 capacity
Greater Manchester Police is set to close Wigan's JJB Stadium on Monday over 300,000 in unpaid policing costs.

Latics owner Dave Whelan is in dispute over what he feels are unfair bills and revealed that the police plan to withdraw the club's safety certificate.

This would effectively prevent the promotion chasers hosting matches.

"Our policing bill for the recent home game against Leeds was 43,995. Preston's was 7,700. How can that be right?" said Whelan.

If next Saturday's game against Millwall is going to be the last at this stadium, it would be very sad
Latics owner Dave Whelan

Key to the problem is Wigan's belief they are being charged for policing outside the stadium, something Whelan does not think they should be responsible for.

"I would like to let the matter go to court," he said.

"If I am wrong, I will pay. If Chief Superintendent Peter Mason is wrong, he loses faith.

"I can't see what is wrong with that. Unfortunately, the offer has been rejected completely."

Whelan has contacted local Labour MPs, including party chairman Ian McCartney, in a bid to establish the reason behind GMP's policing arrangements but has so far received no response.

So now, 10 years after he took over and with his home-town club on the verge of achieving Premiership status for the first time in their history, Wigan are facing a logistical and administrative disaster.

Important home games against West Ham and Sunderland will either have to be called off or moved to other venues, raising the possibility of Wigan being fined by the Football League for failing to fulfil their fixtures.

"Everyone can see what is happening in this town," said Whelan.

"We are closer to the Premiership than we have ever been. Promotion would be absolutely fantastic and we certainly shouldn't have to be spending time worrying about issues like this.

"If next Saturday's game against Millwall is going to be the last at this stadium, it would be very sad and a damning indictment on the state of football in this country."




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