ESPN in the United States has hired Wigan Manager Roberto Martinez to provide commentary from South Africa during the 2010 World Cup.
The animated Martinez who had an excellent playing career in England and Scotland along with his native Spain is major capture for the American broadcaster.
World Cup broadcasters in Spain and Great Britain had sought Martinez’s services over the summer. Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan is sure to have encouraged Martinez’s summer employment, as the overall profile of Wigan Athletic will be elevated in the United States.
Whelan, who has built Wigan from a non league club to a perennial mid-table Premiership side in short order, may be able to exploit Martinez’s increased profile to also elevate the recognition of the town of Wigan.
I recently completed the book, Pies and Prejeduce, in Search of the North, by author Stuart Maconie. In the book Maconie who is from Wigan, states “ I come from a hick town.” He does go on to state that Wigan is the only place in Britain with a Premiership football club and Super League Rugby side.
So much of Wigan’s sporting lore has to do with Dave Whelan and perhaps the small “hick” town which is like so many American middle sized places can connect with US based football fans. Martinez’s hiring by ESPN furthers this possibility.
Americans love an underdog, and Wigan is the ultimate Premier League underdog. Previously Wigan was the ultimate Football League underdog as well. Martinez who played a key role in two of Wigan’s promotions knows this well.
So while Roberto Martinez works on connecting with the American audience this summer, remember the role of his club and his owner.