Wigan go in to Administration after Hong Kong firm walk away

Wigan Athletic the small side from England was put in the spotlight this week as their Hong Kong owners pulled the plug plunging them into administration. This on paper may just look like they are a victim of the pandemic but take a closer look and this is a football scandal that should not have happened. 

How could this happen? 

Many aspects of what I say below have been taken from a thread on twitter from Wigan fan @marksparko.

To get an understanding of Wigan as a football club, this is a side that spent much of the early 2000s in the top flight of English football from 2005 to relegation in 2013. 

It was a great period for the club that saw them play in Europe and win the FA Cup beating Manchester City in 2013. During this time they were under the ownership of Dave Whelan a millionaire who owned a chain of sports stores. 

The man also played football for a local side near Wigan, Blackburn Rovers in the 50s and 60s but he had to retire through injury. So Wigan is a football club that for many years had ownership that really cared about the team and the local community. 

In 2018 however, with the man in his 80s, Whelan sold the football club to  Hong Kong based International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) who specialise in gambling. Owned by professional poker player Stanley Choi of Hong Kong.

During this period we saw Wigan return to the second tier of English football and the side looked to be on its way back after a bad period following relegation from the Premier League in 2013. 

The club have in fact just lost once in their last 12 matches so on the pitch it looks to be going well. Then at the beginning of June, everything looked to change as the club said in a statement "We can confirm that the sale of the majority shareholdings of the Wigan Athletic Group from International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) to Next Leader Fund L.P. has now formally completed."

The new company was set up in January 2020, in the Cayman Islands and it is said the money to buy the team came in the shape of a loan. 

This loan agreement can be found online but it was set up for £28million with an interest rate of 8% rising to 20% if not paid back in 12 months. That’s £100,000 a week in payments which the side would not be able to afford.

This in itself raises a red flag but although the leagues say they do a fit a proper test on new owners it seems crazy this was allowed to happen. 

Then according to reports the new company switched to a new majority stakeholder named Au Yeung Wai Kay and then just a week later Chinese lawyers contacted administrators to instruct them to seize control of Wigan football club, it is said the administrators themselves can’t even contact the owners of the Next Leader Fund. 

The question would then have to be asked why someone would buy a football club just to put them straight into administration.

To try and understand this you can look to the head of the English Football League, Richard Parry who was caught on camera suggesting that large bets in the Philippines have been put on Wigan being relegated. 

To make matters more interesting the previous owners made their money in gambling and the club itself is sponsored by K8 Group a chain of online casinos based in the Philippines. 

To go back to the side being put into administration it should be said at this point that the club's punishment for this will see them deducted 12 points this season if they avoid relegation, they are currently seven points off the drop. 

What this means is as things stand when the season ends in five matches time the club will be deducted 12 points and therefore relegated from the English Championship. To read more on this you can look at the tweets linked above.

While we would not want to say for sure that any of this is true it is clear the whole thing needs to be investigated by the Football League and we need to make sure we never see something like this happen ever again. 

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