So, Dave, some of your best friends are Jews? We wondered what they looked like. Here are the ones we found:


Football boss Dave Whelan's claim that he has "loads of Jewish friends" has been rubbished by senior figures in the game and by members of the Jewish community.

The Wigan Athletic owner is being investigated by the Football Association following remarks in which he claimed Jews "chase money more than everybody else" and said "Jewish people love money".

After apologising, Mr Whelan said he was "absolutely anti-racist, always have been, always will be" and would resign from his role as Wigan chairman if the FA found him guilty of racism.

In a television interview, he said: "I would never upset a Jewish person, I hold them in the highest regard. I have loads of Jewish friends." Elsewhere he was quoted as claiming his Jewish friends numbered "hundreds and hundreds" and then "thousands".

The footballer-turned-millionaire-businessman made his remarks while defending his club's appointment of Malky Mackay as manager.

Mr Mackay is himself being investigated by the FA for alleged antisemitism and other racism in a series of text messages.

The JC contacted football figures and Jewish communal leaders in Lancashire this week to track down some of Mr Whelan's Jewish acquaintances.

However, none said they had a friendship with the 77-year-old and many expressed doubts that he had ever previously had any connection to the community.

One senior Jewish figure in English football said he knew of no Jews in the game who were friends with Mr Whelan. The source said he had no social links with the Wigan chairman and had only dealt with him on professional matters.

Jewish football agent Phil Smith, who was the subject of one of offensive texts, said he doubted Mr Whelan knew many Jewish people.

He said: "I've only met him once before. I don't think he has thousands of Jewish friends and if he did, he won't have them now. To make a sweeping statement like that is unbelievable. The FA have to act," he said.

Hilary Thomas, who last week published a history of Wigan's now-defunct Jewish community, said she was unaware of any links between Mr Whelan's club and local Jews.

"He says he has Jewish friends, but who are they? They are not coming out of the woodwork to defend him now. There are lots of Jewish people involved in football, but no one seems to know Mr Whelan," she said.

Manchester is the nearest place to Wigan with a significant Jewish community.

A member of the Jewish Representative Council there said the community had no past links with Mr Whelan or his club and that the claim to have "thousands of Jewish friends" was "an exaggeration".

Mr Whelan's comments were condemned by Jewish communal organisations, with the Community Security Trust saying he reflected "the persistence of dinosaur attitudes in football".

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson, a former FA head, said Mr Whelan must withdraw his "disgraceful antisemitic language" and called for the FA to punish him.

Board of Deputies vice-chair Jonathan Arkush said Mr Whelan had brought the game into disrepute with "outrageous and offensive" comments. "You cannot insult a whole group of people, and then say, 'I would never insult them', and hope that's ok."

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