WIGAN Athletic boss Dave Whelan has pledged £1m to the Tories - because he says he believes Labour have let the country down by failing to get to grips with violent crime.
The wealthy businessman, who earlier this year sold his family's entire stake in the JJB Sports shop empire for £190m, said today the gunning-down of schoolboy Rhys Jones highlighted the problem facing police forces nationwide.
He said: "This government, I believe, has failed on that front and the Conservative Party now stands as the only party prepared to take on these issues."He said he was supporting Tory leader David Cameron because, having met and talked with him, he was convinced he has the right approach to dealing with law and order in Britain.The 70-year-old tycoon said: "The murder of Rhys Jones upset me and my family, just as it did so many people in this country."David's promise to deal with knife and gun crime, early release of prisoners and more prison places is music to my ears. He has my full support.
"Mr Whelan says he will hand over the money within 14 days if Gordon Brown calls an early election.If not, the payment will be phased over a 12-month period.
The donation will be a crucial boost to Mr Cameron's `war chest' on the eve of the party's annual conference, which begins in Blackpool on Sunday.
Mr Whelan, who is chairman of Wigan Athletic, set up JJB Sports in 1971 after breaking his leg while playing for Blackburn Rovers in the 1960 Cup Final.
He started the company with a single shop and built it up into a nationwide chain of more than 400 high street stores. He has been appointed honorary life president in recognition of his contribution to the business.
NWN: Whelan behaves like a 19th Century stereotypical mill owner. Many of his workforce hate the guy .