Ian Lenagan to step down as Chairman and Shareholder

  • Wigan Chairman to stand down on 30th November 2023 after 16 years of Lenagan family ownership.
  • Mike Danson will become the Club’s new 100% owner.
  • Professor Chris Brookes will become the new Wigan Chairman.

Wigan Warriors announce that Chairman, Ian Lenagan, will stand down at the end of the 2023 season after 16 years of Lenagan family ownership of the Club.  He will officially resign on 30th November 2023.

Ian bought the Club from Dave Whelan at the end of 2007, leading the Club into the 2008 season.

He made his first Head Coach appointment in late 2009 naming Melbourne Storm assistant coach, Michael Maguire, as the man to lead Wigan from the 2010 season. Maguire secured the League Leaders’ Shield and then the Super League title in his first season and the Challenge Cup the following year.

Shaun Wane was appointed Head coach for 2012, winning the League Leaders’ Shield in his first season and then going on to win the Double in 2013, as well as two more Super League Grand Finals in 2016 and 2018. He led Wigan to claim the World Club Challenge in a win over Cronulla Sharks at the DW Stadium in 2017.

Adrian Lam navigated Wigan through the difficult COVID years with a League leaders Shield before Matt Peet took over in 2022 with a Challenge Cup victory.

Throughout the last 14 years, Ian worked ever more closely with Kris Radlinski as he progressed from Rugby General Manager to Executive Director and to Chief Executive.

Ian Lenagan honours with Wigan Warriors as Chairman & Owner:

  • Super League Grand Final Winner – 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018.
  • Super League Runners Up – 2014, 2015, 2020.
  • Challenge Cup Winner – 2011, 2013, 2022.
  • League Leaders – 2010, 2012, 2020
  • World Club Challenge Winner – 2017.

Ian Lenagan’s other major achievement as owner must include moving the Club’s Headquarters to Robin Park Arena, creating a centre of excellence for all the teams, backroom and office staff operation under one roof for the first time.

Wigan Warriors High Performance Training site at Robin Park Arena, Loire Drive.

Having been involved with a shareholding since summer of 2020, Mike Danson will become 100% owner of Wigan Warriors purchasing the remaining 51% of the Lenagan shares on 1st December 2023. 

Professor Chris Brookes will become the Club’s new Chairman having recently been appointed Vice Chairman, following on from a 40-year career in the NHS.

Ian Lenagan said: “I have a strong memory of walking down to Central Park aged about 9-years-old with my brother Tony and my Grandfather Tom Moran, beyond excited as always, to see my favourite Wigan players of the day: Billy Boston, Eric Ashton and Brian McTigue – all magical names to any Cherry and Whites supporter of a certain age. 

I was reminded of that moment at the recent Wigan v Saints game at the DW Stadium 68 years later, reflecting that my time leading this club which has been a central part of my life, would soon be coming to an end. 

It barely seemed possible that a young lad from Scholes, whose only dream was to see his beloved Wigan team lift trophy after trophy, would many years later be able to do that from such a lofty and privileged position.

When the opportunity to own Wigan Warriors appeared I could scarcely believe it. It was always my ideal once I got involved with running London Broncos and I was as keen then to regenerate Wigan’s position of being a standard bearer for excellence in professional sport, on and off the field, as I still am today.

The five coaches I’ve worked with – Brian Noble, Michael Maguire, Shaun Wane, Adrian Lam and Matt Peet – plus some fantastic players in George Carmont, Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Michael McIlorum, Sean O’Loughlin and Tommy Leuluai to name a few personal favourites, have all played their part in giving so many people some magnificent memories. Super Leagues, Challenge Cups, World Club Challenges at home and in Australia, Barcelona, Wembley and of course Tottenham last year.

Ian Lenagan celebrates Wigan’s 20th Challenge Cup victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2022 alongside his sons Simon and Adrian Lenagan.

Being able to share all the experiences, some uplifting, some heartbreaking, with my family, with heroes I previously could only admire as a fan and with the people of the town where I was born and raised, means more to me than many of you will ever know. They have provided many signposts for my life for the past 16 years.

I have had the pleasure of making great friendships through Rugby League at Wigan, in France, with other clubs’ directors and fans and within Super League and the RFL generally. I feel Rugby League is now in a strong position to grow again with a better structure, strong owners and the IMG relationship. 

I am pleased to have been the custodian of Wigan Warriors for 16 years and particularly in its celebratory 150th year. Custodianship also brings the responsibility to find your successor and in Mike Danson, someone I’ve grown to know and like a great deal over the last three years, I believe the Club’s future will be in the best of hands with his history as a long-term supporter of Wigan Warriors. His humility and steel to continue the tradition we all contribute to and appreciate the value of, is based on true Wigan resolve.

I’d like to thank all of the Wigan staff and that small group of private shareholders that have given everything they have, often at great cost, through challenging times. My time at Wigan has been helped by the amazing support and unending loyalty from my PA, Mandy Johnston, and from the sterling efforts of David Moore as Finance Director and Wayne Joyce as Operations Director. I’d also like to pass on my best wishes to Chris Brookes as incoming Chairman. 

But my highest praise of all rests with Kris Radlinski who I have been delighted to see develop from being one of my favourite Wigan players into one of the best Chief Executives in Super League. The pleasure of mentoring him in the early days, winning and losing, financial uncertainty, the trials of the Covid years and the relaunch afterwards of the new identity, and the Robin Park headquarters has been very special.

Ian Lenagan and Kris Radlinski sit down for a Loch Lomond style chat at the Warriors’ 2023 Media Day at Robin Park Arena.

Perhaps the only true test of any retiring ownership is how the club is left for those that come next. With more teams than ever, a world-class training facility, thriving Education and Community programmes and peace of mind about where we play, I’d like to think that the Club is in a good place, ready to challenge consistently on the field and to play its part in a new future for sport in Wigan and the surrounding area.

Finally, I’d like to thank all the Wigan Warriors supporters for their unerring support during my time as Owner and Chairman. Perhaps that has given me the proudest feelings of all. It is something that the 9-year-old boy who ended up living his own Wigan Rugby League dream will be grateful for always.”

Wigan Warriors Chief Executive, Kris Radlinski, said: “Transition in any business is very often a sensitive time, but in sport, there appears to be an added level of emotional connection. The handover of ownership from Ian Lenagan to Mike Danson will be a delicate one but one that we are determined to celebrate.

The role that Ian has played in the last 16 years of ownership is immeasurable. He has invested a huge amount of time and money into one of his life’s great passions, Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club. In doing so, he has overseen Wigan winning 11 trophies and shaped the lives and careers of many players, coaches and employees.

He personally mentored me through the difficult transitional period of life after sport and gave me the precious gift of time to develop. I will be forever grateful for his knowledge and friendship. The town and people of Wigan owe him a huge thank you and show of gratitude for his efforts. As a proud custodian of the Wigan Warriors, Ian displayed incredible leadership as he guided the Club through the toughest period of its existence as we battled the challenges of the pandemic.  

Ian was determined to hand over the Club to somebody who shares similar values to himself. In Mike Danson, he has found a man who has a strong vision for the Club and in particular the community of Wigan. With the news that Mike now also owns Wigan Athletic, there is a clear directive that Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic will work closer together than ever before. We will work hard to give the people of Wigan two sporting teams to be proud of. 

Mike, Ian and myself along with fellow Director Ben Goodburn and Vice Chairman, Professor Chris Brookes, have been working hard over the last few months to provide a smooth transition. 

Whilst it is very important to plan for the future, it is also important to celebrate the legacy of Ian Lenagan. I will personally reflect on the last period of my life and also look forward to the next chapter of this wonderful Rugby League Club”

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 19/02/2017 – Dacia World Club Series – Wigan Warriors v Cronulla Sharks – Sean O’Loughlin with Ian Lenagan.

Chris Brookes said: ”I am deeply honoured that I have been appointed Chairman of Wigan Warriors with effect from season 2024. Next year will be my eighteenth serving the Club and I understand the immense privilege of this role. Rugby League is my passion, having worked in the game for 27 years and I am equally passionate about our wonderful Club. Wigan Warriors means so much to our fans and their families and has such a strong connection to the Wigan Community.

I will be working tirelessly with our new owner Mike Danson and with the Board and staff to strengthen even further these links, building on our ethos of inclusivity with the Club being a place where all are welcome and of which we can be proud. 

I am delighted that Wigan Warriors now fields highly regarded Women’s and Women’s Academy teams, Wheelchair and PDRL & LDRL teams in addition to our successful Men’s, Academy and Scholarship sides. As a Club, we are committed to the success of all these teams and know we will be able to count on your support in all these competitions. 

Finally, I want to pay tribute to our current owner and Chairman, Ian Lenagan. His passion and commitment to Wigan Warriors is legendary and his leadership of the Club and guidance to me over the years has been steadfast and hugely appreciated. I have enjoyed both his company and that of his amazing family and owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. Stepping into his shoes as Chairman will be a hard act to follow, yet I know that with the support of our marvellous fans, together, we will be able to build on Ian’s magnificent legacy and steer Wigan Warriors to further success“.

Ian Lenagan at a World Club Series event at Revs Bar, Wigan.

Mike Danson said “As I have got to know Ian over the past three years it is clear how much this great club means to him and his family. He has been a fantastic custodian of the club and a strong advocate for this wonderful game at all levels. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Warriors thrive under Ian’s stewardship, both on and off the pitch, and I’m honoured and grateful to be taking on the responsibility as the club’s custodian.

We will do everything we can to bring success and honour to the Warriors and to make our loyal supporters proud“.

Saturday 15 July 2023