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Wigan Athletic have become the first club in professional English football to enter administration following the coronavirus pandemic, only four weeks after a Hong Kong consortium completed a takeover of the Championship club.
The Latics face the threat of a 12-point deduction from the EFL after Paul Stanley, Gerald Krasner and Dean Watson of insolvency firm Begbies Traynor were appointed as joint administrators on Wednesday.
Krasner said: “Our immediate objectives are to ensure the club completes all its fixtures this season and to urgently find interested parties to save Wigan Athletic FC and the jobs of the people who work for the club.
“Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club.
“Wigan Athletic has been a focal point and source of pride for the town since 1932 and anyone who is interested in buying this historic sporting institution should contact the joint administrators directly.”
Wigan are currently 14th in the Championship with six games left to play, having appeared to have eased their relegation fears by winning all three of their games since restarting on 20 June.
A possible 12-point deduction due to entering administration would leave Wigan bottom of the second tier as it stands. The Latics were a Premier League club as recently as the 2012-13 season, famously beating Manchester City in the FA Cup final that same year.
On 4 June, Wigan announced the completion of a takeover by the Next Leader Fund (NLF), a partnership headed up by businessman Au Yeung Wai Kay, which took the reins from another Hong Kong consortium International Entertainment Corporation (IEC).
Darren Royal, the club’s executive chairman, said the NLF takeover would allow the club to “negate some of the immediate” financial challenges of the pandemic, adding: ”We have already faced a challenging couple of months and there are no doubt more ahead following the Covid-19 outbreak.”
David Sharpe, the former Wigan chairman and grandson of ex-owner Dave Whelan, who sold the club to IEC in late 2018, told The Independent in April that the pandemic would exacerbate the Championship’s “broken” financial model.
“If you don’t try to compete with [other clubs], then ultimately you’ll have a terrible team on the pitch because you’ve got the lowest wage bill and you’re trying to run the club sensibly. You’ll just go down with a whimper. For us there was only one solution and that was getting out,” Sharpe said.