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Martinez Set to Raise Wigan’s US Profile


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.

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  1. Bawlung chuih

    December 16, 2009 at 12:09 am

    No doubt, Martinez is the coach now in premier league with the record 9-1 loss to Totenham. Coach who led his team to 9-1 loss in Premier league is inarguably deserve ” the jackass coach ”

    Wigan must find any coach who can pee like men in the pitch as long as he is not Martinez. The worst mannager in EPL this season must be Martin Jol or Martinez.

  2. Tim

    December 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

    In 2008 I took a trip to the UK with my wife and friends. I really wanted to take in a football match but did not have tickets beforehand. We were staying in Manchester so we planned on trying to go to the ManU-Portsmouth FA cup match on Saturday or the Wigan-Arsenal match on Sunday. Being an Arsenal supporter and being unable to find reasonably priced tickets to the FA Cup match I decided we should try Wigan the next day.

    When we got to the stadium they would not let us purchase tickets from the box office because we had never purchased tickets before(even though I am an Arsenal supporter, I didn’t show it in case we had to get tickets in the Wigan section). Since there were plenty of tickets still available there were no touts selling outside the stadium. Just when all seemed lost, a generous Wigan season ticket holder offered to buy us tickets and we were able to see the match. My first and only PL match and it ended in a 0-0 draw, but it was an amazing experience. I had only casually followed the PL up until that point, but since then I try to watch every Arsenal match and find myself watching other matches if I have the time.

    Wigan will always have a place in my heart and I always want them to do well. They are my “second team”(I know that following 2 teams is almost blasphemous, but I don’t care). I hope that Roberto Martinez can increase the Latics profile to the average US soccer fan.

  3. DZ

    December 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

    As an American and relative newcomer (and absolute devotee) to the EPL, I can say that Wigan is my favorite EPL team. On the heels of catching World Cup fever back in 2006, I had watched a few EPL games, but now had an inkling that I would be very interested in following this “new-to-me” sport league. I selected Wigan in July of 2006 based on a few equally-valued core components:
    1. Must be a ‘non-Big-4’ team and from a smaller city that reflected an area in which I live.
    2. Must have good-looking kits (love that blue-white vertical stripe) as I tend to be a supporter that will loyally purchase the team’s merchandise.
    3. Must be a team that is newer to the EPL which reflected myself in being a newcomer to the league.

    As a double-bonus, I was happy to find that Wigan’s owner is both English and a local owner of the club. Many people say what they will, but I happen to think his manner of management is keeping the club’s finances healthy albeit leaving fans little to discuss in the way of blockbuster transfers (except for what terrific amounts we get as we sell).

    I agree wholeheartedly agree with the notion that if the US were exposed to the ‘underdog’ story of Wigan’s rise to the top level of English football, more would be fans. As a US supporter of the Latics, I welcome all who choose them.

    PS So you’re an American and a fan of one of the Big 4?, Any monkey can be a Big 4 fan.

  4. Gunner JD

    December 14, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I must confess I don’t know much about Martinez or Wigan, but I’m happy for American World Cup audiences nonetheless. Any connection to the PL and European football in general is good in my opinion. Whatever raises the level of exposure in this country.

  5. The Gaffer

    December 14, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    “Perhaps the small “hick” town which is like so many American middle sized places can connect with US based football fans.”

    In some ways, they already had especially in their first season in the Premier League where they caught everyone by surprise with their attacking style of play that won over many American hearts.

    For many of us, it was our introduction to players like Jimmy Bullard.

    The Gaffer

  6. john

    December 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    whatever happened to la liga talk, it was a series i was really enjoying and recently their blog entries have been infrequent?

    • The Gaffer

      December 14, 2009 at 7:35 pm

      Hi John, La Liga Talk is still going strong. Andy Pineda and a couple of other bloggers are writing for the site at on a regular basis.

      The Gaffer

  7. LI Matt

    December 14, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    He does go on to state that Wigan is the only place in Britain with a Premiership football club and Super League Rugby side.

    That may have been true when he wrote it, but it isn’t today. Hull has two Superleague clubs, Hull FC and Kingston Rovers (“Hull KR”), along with the Premiership’s Hull City FC. Hull City and Hull FC share the KC Stadium.

  8. Cantona

    December 14, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    I guess I need some clarification… “commentating”.. as in color analysis during the game?.. or.. as in halftime pundit?…pundit suits him fine…(I really dont want to see Lalas or Poudy Foudy at half)… in game color guy.. dont know .. sounds like that would be taking a risk having a novice do pxp…. what ever happened to all the Mourinho rumors of him coming to ESPN?…


    • The Gaffer

      December 14, 2009 at 8:57 pm

      Sounds like he’ll be a pundit just like he is on ESPN in the UK. As for Mourinho, the rumors of him going to ESPN to do some punditry have died down. Mourinho needs to move on from Inter Milan to get back in the limelight of the top flight of English football again.

      The Gaffer

  9. mark the jack

    December 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Martinez is judas. After ripping the heart out of Swansea, I will have to listen to alternative commentary, rather than listen to that lying Spaniard.

    • The Gaffer

      December 14, 2009 at 8:56 pm

      Hi Mark, I’m a Swansea fan too. Although I’m a bit upset about Martinez going against his word and buying Swansea players after he left to join Wigan, I can’t blame him for moving on from Swansea. Wigan, while not a massive club, gives him the limelight he deserves (as well as the checkbook he desires). He’s already made quite a difference at Wigan and is going to go on to greatness just like Tosh did with Real Madrid.

      The Gaffer

  10. Raatzie

    December 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Martinez also set to lower Liverpool’s Prem profile.

    /want to wake up now.

  11. sammy

    December 14, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    By the time the World Cup starts, he will be known as the former Wigan manager.

    • The Gaffer

      December 14, 2009 at 5:32 pm

      Sammy, is that because you think he’ll move on to a bigger club or he’ll get sacked as Wigan manager?

      The Gaffer

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