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Wigan administrators request meeting with crisis club’s owner Au Yeung

Dean Watson Handout Photo
(Image credit: Appeal PR)

Administrators have requested a meeting with the owner of Wigan, Au Yeung, to explain the circumstances which led to the current crisis at the club.

Next Leader Fund, led by Yeung, took formal control of the Championship side on June 4. Twenty days later Yeung’s legal representatives set in motion the process to appoint administrators which was confirmed on July 1.

The move has wreaked sporting and financial havoc on the club. They face a 12-point penalty, which administrators confirmed on Tuesday they have appealed against.

Off the pitch, administrators announced 75 redundancies have been made so far among football support staff and general support staff. The UK-based directors, chief executive Jonathan Jackson and executive chairman Darren Royle, have also been made redundant but are working for free to assist with selling the club.

Joint administrator Gerald Krasner said he and his partners had gathered some information regarding the events which led up to administration, but now wanted to hear from Yeung.

“Earlier today the administrators approved a letter from our solicitor to go to the owner’s solicitor,” Krasner said.

“That sets out a number of matters that we want clarifying and it invites the owner, if he will, to come to a Zoom meeting with us, with his lawyers if he wishes, so we can get the facts from his side as to the events leading up to administration and then compare them to the events that we’ve been told about, and see whether they agree or if there is a difference.

“I am hopeful that although no powers to force them to come to an interview, he would want to do his best for the football club, and with some gentle persuasion will agree to that interview.”

Krasner would not comment on whether there would be a police investigation into the circumstances around the administration process, but said it would not hinder the sale of the club.

He said that as of 11am on Tuesday morning 50 non-disclosure agreements had been sent out, and three of them had been returned with proof of funds of £10million. The administrators hope to settle on a preferred bidder by July 21.

“The investigation is completely distinct from the sale,” he said.

“I have told the people I have spoken to that have put the proof of funds in that whatever comes out of the investigation will not impact any sale.”

Wigan Warriors rugby league club owner Ian Lenagan says he is working on a bid.

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“We strongly believe that Wigan Athletic is better being locally owned,” read a statement from Lenagan and Gary Speakman.

“We are currently working with our longstanding advisers KPMG and talking to external parties.

“Our intention is to identify other investors quickly and start due diligence on the football club with the intention of making a bid in due course.

“We have made the administrators aware of our interest and hope to explore this with them further over the days ahead.”

Players have received 20 per cent of their pay, with administrators hoping to find the remaining 80 per cent via player sales. To that end, the club have appointed an agent to attract buyers, but were at pains to point out that the agent would not be paid by Wigan.

On the appeal, Krasner pointed out no club had ever successfully challenged the 12-point penalty for entering administration, which would be applied this season if the club stay in the Championship or to next season’s table if they are relegated.

He said the administrators were also working on a strategy to ensure the club would not be liable to a further 15-point deduction for failing to pay creditors 25p in the pound.

Joint administrator Paul Stanley said the official supporters’ club had raised £125,000 by Tuesday morning.

“For the away games that will pay for the coaches, the hotels, for the home games it would pay for the doctors, the ambulances, any other requirements we need at games like stewards or the police,” Stanley said.

“Even down to putting petrol in the lawnmowers to get the pitches mowed.”

The administrators said a local firm, Easeway Travel, had agreed to cover the cost of getting the first team to their away fixture against Barnsley on Saturday.

The administrators met with local MP Lisa Nandy on Tuesday. She has called for a full inquiry into the circumstances around the administration and has asked the EFL to rescind the points penalty.