Stags CEO David Sharpe is loving his new life in League Two

After a lifetime of supporting granddad Dave Whelan's Wigan Athletic, Mansfield Town CEO David Sharpe admitted it had been strange to swap clubs but said he was now a committed Stags fan.
David Sharpe in the stand at Wigan Athletic.David Sharpe in the stand at Wigan Athletic.
David Sharpe in the stand at Wigan Athletic.

“I grew up watching Wigan from the age of five when my granddad bought it,” said Sharpe, who was born in Wigan and became one of the world's youngest chairmen at 23 when taking over from Whelan.

“Reaching the Premier League within 10 years from the old Division Three, which is now League Two, was incredible and I was at every game from being a five-year-old, so it was a great journey.

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“But it's now all about Mansfield and that is my prime focus.

“It's strange really, it's a weird feeling. I grew up a Wigan supporter but when you leave the club and things change, it's not quite the same.

“It's hard to have that same feeling for the place and my emotions are now all caught up in our results at Mansfield.

“The first results I look for now are League Two and I hope there are load of draws when we win as that is perfect for us.”

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He added: “My best memory at Wigan would be in my first full season after taking over as chairman when we won League One and got promoted to the Championship.

“Beating Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final was another highlight. “Everyone remembers the final when we won it in 2013, but that quarter-final win was a great night.”

Now seven years on from that Wigan appointment, he said: “I have learned a lot in that time, though to be honest I have learned more than anything since I have been at Mansfield.

“When I was at Wigan I was chairman and had a CEO below me.

“And it was a very different club as we were ex-Premier League and had a bigger staff base.

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“It is a totally different world being in the Premier League and League Two.

“We had been relegated but the structure was still there with a very large staff.

“I just had to oversee it. I wasn't as active as I am with Mansfield.

“Things are a lot more realistic at our level with wages and staff.

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“In the Premier League and Championship it is very bizarre what some staff earn, let along players.”

Sharpe is loving the versatility of his staff at the One Call Stadium.

“I have enjoyed it,” he said. “They are good people here, very good staff around the place albeit not a big staff. But everyone mucks in. I was surprised when I first joined that everyone knows different things of different sides of the club.

“There are random things you would not expect them to know – but they do because they have all mucked in and all had to get their hands dirty. It's great and there is a great chemistry between them all.”

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He added: “I am trying to implement a lot of change and build on what has been put in place by the current board and John and Carolyn and the investment they've put in. I want to bring new ideas to the club.

“We had a great time with season tickets in the summer with our highest sales for more than 10 years. We have tried to tidy up the image of the stadium.

“Bishop Street isn't ideal but we've tried to do the best we can with it and it looks neater now with the scoreboard and sponsorship.

“We just want to be proud of the place and there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes and the club is in a good place.

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“When things are going well on the pitch, normally things off the pitch go well too.”

Sharpe was hoping for the cash boost of a Premier League big gun in the FA Cup but believes drawing Middlesbrough at home has given a good chance of an upset.

“Especially from the financial point of view, you always want a Manchester United, a Chelsea or an Arsenal to make a few quid,” he said.

“When I was at Wigan we drew Manchester United away in the third round when we were in the Championship and made £1.1 to £1.2 million from that game. We lost 5-0 but it was the best defeat ever.

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“But getting a home draw gives us a chance. I think Middlesbrough might make quite a few changes as they are going well in the league and will have their eyes set on trying to get in the play-offs.

“We'd hope to be at full strength and you never know. We've beaten two League Ones sides away from home already and this is a difficult place to come to play.

“It is a tie that I would imagine would be in the top five or 10 likely upsets in the newspapers as there is potential we will give them a good run for their money.”