JOE Royle is open to taking another job in football, even though he is aged 71.
The legendary former Oldham Athletic manager was until June a director at Wigan Athletic.But that came to an end when the Championship club went into administration on July 1 citing financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
It was a decision which also impacted Royle’s Delph-based son Darren who was the club’s executive chairman.
Royle, who once vowed to walk away from football for good aged 55, admitted: “I have retired three times, but am not very good at it.
“It would have to be a good offer and not financially driven because it would not be about money.
“It is because I love the game and have been involved from making my first-team debut aged 16 for Everton to still being so aged 71.”
Royle, who lived in the former Strinesdale Hospital, a former sanitorium when he managed Oldham, was invited to become a director at the DW Stadium in late 2018 when Wigan were sold by long-term owner Dave Whelan to Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation.
The former Oldham Athletic, Everton, Manchester City and Ipswich Town manager – he is among an elite group to have managed 1,000 games – was asked to assist on the playing side.
“They wanted to use my experience to work with manager Paul Cook on recruitment which is still the most important thing in football,” he explained.
The step up to the boardroom at Wigan also completed a remarkable hat-trick for Royle who joined a select band who have been a professional footballer, manager and director.
But he admitted: “There is nothing that beats playing – management and being a director was always second best. Luckily I had that thrill as a player.”
Royle may have been relatively new to being a director, but he was no stranger.
He said: “I have good experience of being in boardrooms from 1982 when I became Oldham Athletic manager.
“Later it was a similar case at Everton, Manchester City and Ipswich Town when at each I got to know how the club was run.”
Royle added he was privileged to work with some of the great administrators in English football – Oldham Athletic chairman Ian Stott who was also a leading figure at the Football Association.
And while at Oldham he also worked with Tom Finn who went on to become a leading light in the game’s governance.
“When I arrived at Oldham, I was the youngest manager in the Football League and Tom was the youngest secretary,” he said.
Everton chairman Peter Johnson became a good friend as did Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks who again was a leading light at the FA and Football League.
There was also David Bernstein who was chairman at Manchester City at a particularly challenging period when they were relegated to the third tier.
Royle added he never got too involved in off-the-field events, preferring to concentrate on the playing side.
He explained: “I was always one for leaving the expertise to the experts.
“I knew relatively little and did not consider myself a jack of all trades. I looked on it as you don’t tell a tailor how to make a suit.”
Royle, along with other staff at Wigan Athletic, were instructed by the administrator not to make any public comment about their plight.
But he feared Wigan could be the tip of a large iceberg as the full impact of Covid-19 starts to take effect.
“The last time football had such a bad time was in 1939 when it was suspended because of the Second World War,” he explained.
Indeed, Julia Knight, chair of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee, declared: “We know that 10 to 15 clubs could find themselves in the same position.
“It would be tragic if a club that has been in existence for nearly 90 years is forced to the wall.”
Wigan appointed administrators Begbies Traynor who received 10 different expressions of interest within 24 hours of taking over the running of the club.
The club is 14th in the Championship but a mandatory 12-point penalty would plunge it into the relegation places.
Whelan sold the club to International Entertainment Corporation, led by new chairman Stanley Choi, in November 2018.
There was a further change of ownership in June when Next Leader Fund – in which Choi has a 51 per cent stake – took control.
Under the change of ownership, the Next Leader Fund loaned Wigan £28.77million which was not forthcoming.
Paul Stanley, one of the administrators, did not think the coronavirus pandemic had a big impact on the decision.
He said: “I don’t think it’s played a massive part in terms of the way the club’s been run, because the club’s been run very well.
“The funding that was due to come in from the owners didn’t come in. It might be coronavirus-related, I just don’t know.”
Whelan, 83, said he would “help in any way” to try and save the club.
In May, EFL chairman Rick Parry told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee that clubs were facing a £200m financial hole by September and were “stacking up creditors”.