Date: 12th December 2005 at 4:03pm
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Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has revealed he almost took over Manchester United.

In 1989, Whelan was offered the opportunity to step in and buy United after the collapse of Michael Knighton’s proposed takeover.

Whelan: ‘Michael Knighton had bid £11million for 51% of the shares, but he couldn’t find the money. Martin Edwards rang me and asked if I wanted to put the money in and take the controlling interest.

‘I had agreed to buy it, and I was going to merge it with JJB when we were going to float on the Stock Market at the time. But after a while I thought to myself that Manchester United and JJB do not go together.

‘I thought we would never be able to open a shop or sell a football shirt in Liverpool or any other city throughout the country if JJB was linked with Manchester United. Although I own Wigan there’s not been that reaction because we’ve come from nowhere, and at the moment I guess we’re many people’s second club. People respect what Paul Jewell and the rest of us have done at the club.

‘Neither am I a Manchester United supporter. I’m a Wigan and Blackburn supporter, and no one else, because you never leave your clubs.

‘I don’t know how someone like Ken Bates can move from Chelsea to Leeds and be a Leeds supporter. I find that strange. I know I couldn’t do that.

‘In the end I told Martin I couldn’t do it, and suggested he float on the Market, and that’s what he did. He got a lot more money, got the finances he wanted and it all worked out brilliant for him. But I’ve no regrets about not stepping into the chair at Old Trafford.

‘I know that right now I could be pondering Alex’s future. I was disappointed at seeing them get knocked out of Europe last week, and I’m sure Fergie was bitterly disappointed because he is another winner. He will be the first to tell you they haven’t played well recently, but if I were Joel Glazer I’d be saying to him ‘bad luck, let’s build for next year.’

‘I would keep absolute faith with him because he has been superb for Manchester United, absolutely brilliant.
Despite the problems I don’t think he’ll be feeling any pressure at all. He’s been there and done it all before. He knows what football is like.’