Wigan Athletic: Investigation to take place into how club ended up in administration – BBC News

Wigan are 14th in the Championship, seven points clear of the relegation zone

Wigan Athletic’s administrators intend to investigate how the club ended up in the situation barely a month after it changed owners.

On Wednesday, Wigan became the first English professional club to enter administration since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The club faces a 12-point deduction to be applied either this season – if they finish outside of the Championship relegation zone – or at the start of 2020-21.

The club wrote to fans last month to tell them International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) had handed over control to another Hong Kong-based company, Next Leader Fund, on 29 May.

It completed a deal the publicly quoted IEC first mentioned in November. At that time, it was stated IEC chairman Stanley Choi would act as “a limited partner” in NLF.

The speed from the change of ownership being executed to Wigan being put into administration has raised eyebrows.

Joint administrator Gerald Krasner, who took over as chairman of Leeds United in 2004 in the middle of the Yorkshire club’s dire financial situation, said the matter would be investigated.

“Every administration I have been involved in had its peculiarities,” he said. “But this is a first. Four weeks is a record that will stand for some time.

“We are aware of concerns that have been raised. The investigation won’t go away. It will be done. Once I know we have saved the club and got non-disclosure letters out [to prospective buyers] – we’re talking about two weeks – we will sit down with our lawyers to see if there is any litigation there that will be for the benefit of the creditors.”

There is also uncertainty over the status of a £28.77m loan given to Wigan by IEC that attracted 8% interest. This loan now appears to have been repaid by a third party but it is not known what the Latics’ liability for it is.

“There will be a lot of incredible things that come out when we get into the paperwork,” said Krasner.

“On the loans, nothing appears to be registered at Companies House to say they are secured against anything. What we don’t know is whether the new owner has repaid that loan by putting his own money in, which would swap the loan over.”

Krasner said there are “no guarantees” Wigan’s players will receive their wages, which are due on Friday, although he hoped to pay at least some of them.

He revealed the approach to the administrators was initially made on 24 June but it was decided not to do anything until after Wigan’s 3-0 win over Stoke at the DW Stadium on Tuesday as it couldn’t be assumed the players were insured and the administrators wanted to avoid being liable for any injuries.

It was subsequently established the insurance was in place.

Krasner has extensive experience in football, having also been involved in administrations at Bournemouth and Port Vale.

He shares the view of many within the game that Wigan will not be the last club to be brought to its knees by the financial impact of Covid-19.

“The world has changed,” he said. “Everything we thought about football has gone out of the window.

“It’s my personal view that there are a number of clubs in Leagues One and Two that may not survive by coming back.

“There’s possibly at least one Championship club that may seriously be thinking about doing the same.”

Representatives of IEC have been contacted about this story.

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