Exclusive: Wigan in talks with potential new Middle Eastern owner for beleaguered club
- Insolvency practitioner speaks exclusively to the Northern Quota
- Green light given by English Football League
- Deal could be done 'in next few weeks'
The long-running Wigan Athletic takeover saga could finally be coming to an end after it was revealed that a new owner from the Middle East is in talks with the EFL to buy the club.
Paul Stanley, managing partner of Begbies Traynor insolvency practitioners and joint administrator of the Latics, confirmed that the takeover plan has been given as ‘green a light as they can have at this stage’ by the EFL.
It’s possible the deal may be done in the next few weeks if there are no hitches.
The money to fund the takeover has been checked by the EFL. Currently the EFL is conducting background checks on the new owner who is from an as-yet unnamed Middle Eastern company.
The EFL is carrying out all necessary checks to ensure there is not a repeat of last season’s takeover by the Next Leader Fund which saw the club placed into administration a few weeks later.
The prospective new owner has a UK-based team of directors in place to take over the running of Wigan once the deal is approved.
They have a plan to get the team out of League One and they have money to invest
There will be a UK director of football and a UK chief executive, whom Stanley described as "football people".
“The new owners have a plan to take the club forward with a credible management team,” he said.
“They have a plan to get the team out of League One and they have money to invest.”
Wigan are currently in the relegation places in League One and face the prospect of back-to-back relegations.
However, the club’s league position probably would not affect the takeover, Stanley said.
“The new owner would prefer the club to be in League One but still would be happy to accept the club in League Two.”
A takeover needs to be completed before the start of the next season or Wigan will be expelled by the EFL. Under EFL rules clubs are not allowed under to start more than one season in administration.
Local rivals Bury fell foul of this rule as they were kicked out of the EFL in 2019 under similar circumstances.
Paul Stanley has steadied the ship at Wigan in the eight months since being appointed joint administrator in July 2020.
In that time he has generated enough cash to keep the club afloat until the end of the current season - quite an achievement considering the financial situation he inherited.
The club owed £6m to creditors but Stanley and other administrators have cleared the debts, although star players such as Antonee Robinson and Jamal Lowe had to be sold last summer: Robinson to Fulham for £2m and Lowe to Swansea for £800,000.
Covid grants from the EFL to offset loss of income due to the pandemic meant the club did not have to sell players in the January transfer window.
The takeover news will be a welcome boost for Wigan supporters and will raise hopes for the future, although this is not the first time a new owner has been close to buying the club.
In September 2020 an agreement was reached to sell the club, stadium and training ground to Spanish businessman Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo.
However, the deal fell apart in early January when the offer was reduced by 50 per cent. That would have left the club unable to pay its creditors and so trigger a further 15-point deduction that would effectively relegate the club to League Two.
Talks with the Spanish buyers were broken off on 5 January.