EFL rejects Wigan owner’s reason for placing club in administration
➤ Au Yeung cites impact of virus as league backs inquiry ➤ Warriors’ bid to buy club gains support from council
The English Football League has ridiculed the Wigan Athletic owner’s claims that the Covid-19 crisis was to blame for his decision to put the club into administration as it launched its own investigation into the controversy.
Au Yeung Wai Kay suggested yesterday that the pandemic had “fundamentally undermined” his ability to fund Wigan and that the decision to put the Championship side into administration just four weeks after buying the club was taken to “ensure its survival”.
But those claims were dismissed by the EFL, which said it “fundamentally disagrees with the comments” and that the Chinese businessman had provided evidence that he could fund the club at the time of the takeover on May 29, which was months after the outbreak of the virus.
In a statement, the EFL said it welcomed the move by Wigan’s administrators to investigate and would “undertake a similar exercise” and also confirmed The Daily
Telegraph’s revelations that the crisis would accelerate reform of the owners’ and directors’ test.
“The EFL is aware of the public frustrations in respect to the test and acknowledges that there is a requirement for ongoing adaptation and improvement but, from a legal perspective, it can only operate within existing parameters,” it said.
The news came on another extraordinary day when it emerged that:
➤ Gerald Krasner, of administrators Begbies Traynor, said he hoped to have an “outline deal” with a buyer in place by the end of the month after revealing three prospective investors had given proof of funds. ➤ Wigan Warriors rugby league club, who groundshare the DW Stadium with Athletic, are making a move to buy the football club in a bid backed by the local council.
➤ Wigan have appealed against a 12-point deduction after administration on the grounds of “force majeure”, but face the threat of an additional 15-point deduction if part of the £6million owed to creditors is not settled.
➤ Tottenham have had a bid for Alfie Devine and Jensen Weir, two of Wigan’s rising stars, rejected.
➤ Star defender Antonee Robinson and midfielder Joe Williams will each be available for just £1.5million if Wigan are relegated, owing to release clauses in their contracts amid a potential fire sale of players. ➤ Seventy-five staff have been made redundant and senior club executives have agreed to work for nothing only a fortnight after the owners were signing off big-money transfers and new contracts they were unwilling to fund.
“I want a deal done in outline by the end of the month,” said Krasner, who has set a deadline of July 21 for final offers. “We cannot be here until next season. We won’t have the money.”
A Warriors bid is being spearheaded by the Super League club’s chairman, Ian Lenagan, a former chairman of the EFL. David Molyneux, the leader of Wigan council, said it would be “very supportive”.
Wigan face QPR tonight with the club six points clear of the drop.
Keith Harris, the former Football League chairman, has been hired to advise on potential player sales as the club seek to raise funds to cover the shortfall owed to creditors.
AC Milan agreed a £10million deal for Robinson in January only for the deal to collapse, but the leftback has a release clause that would make him available for £1.5million if Wigan are relegated – the same as midfielder Williams.
Only a fortnight ago, Wigan’s owners signed off a short-term deal to sign defender Leon Balogun from Brighton on a £13,000-a-week contract as well as sanctioning a new £4,000-a-week contract for striker Joe Garner. Around the same time, it is understood Szeto Man Chun, who was working as a “football consultant” for Wigan’s owners, was discussing potential infrastructure projects with the club officials.
Uncertain future: Wigan are appealing against a 12-point deduction, that could see them relegated, on the grounds of ‘force majeure’