Back to square one

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Where do we go from here? Quite literally what do we do now?

So after fourteen weeks, one disqualification and numerous tweaked plans the Spanish takeover of Wigan Athletic fell at the final hurdle. Despite Begbies Traynor telling us that ‘no problems were envisaged’ and the deal would originally be ‘completed in two to three weeks’ it was of no surprise to the vast majority of Wigan Athletic supporters when the deal finally broke down.

There had been rumours of issues with both the bid and the prospective owners from very early on in this process, and when Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo failed the EFL’s owners and directors test back at the start of December many expected that to be the end of their interest in the club.

A month later and Felipe Moreno owner of Segunda division Leganes had stepped forward as the main owner and a deal looked all but completed. Indeed many of us had been told it had been done, but as Christmas and New Year came and went the less we heard.

An interview with Paul Stanley describing the situation as in limbo gave us an idea of the states of the talks if not explicit notice that it was on the rocks.

I think the Spaniards had got a lot of credit in the bank among Wigan Athletic fans due to the fact they’re the only party so far to actually put money down on the club. Or at least the only party that Begbies have told us about that have. Plus Felipe Moreno and his wife Victoria Pavon did a very good job at Leganes in similar circumstances to ours in Wigan.

But the fact remains the administrators and indeed our club have been played, first by Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo who was disqualified almost immediately by the EFL and latterly by Moreno by trying to cut his bid by half and as such failing to pay Wigan Athletic’s creditors.

Why would you do that? Well it’s true that things have changed since the original bid in October, his business partner is no longer on the scene and the Covid situation has worsened since the autumn meaning that it could well be next season before supporters are allowed back in to the DW Stadium. I can see why you wouldn’t want to invest your money in something that has no real prospect of returning a profit any time soon. But then why bid at all?

As Lisa Nandy said earlier this week it has been three wasted months, three wasted months off the pitch and now surely any hopes of League One survival have gone as more senior players get set to leave and no funds to replace them in the January transfer window.

The situation is grave, make no mistake Wigan Athletic’s very existence is still at threat. It is beholden on the part of Begbies Traynor that we are still in this situation. A constant false narrative from day one has led us in to this position, and sadly we are now relying on them to get us out of it where we have seen precious little evidence that they can indeed manage that.

We missed our chance of a decent sale in the summer, be that the preferred bid (announced just a few hours before relegation was confirmed against Fulham) or the bid from the American / Belgian consortium led by Gauthier Ganyae that met the full asking price for the Stadium, both training grounds and the club only for the administrators to then sell Euxton and two high profile players.

The list of failures and missteps by Begbies gets longer by the week – emphasised by Paul Stanley and his Boris Johnson style over promises – ‘Easier to sell in League One’, ‘No fire sale’, ‘Envisage no problems’ ‘Completed by Christmas’.

But as they say, we are where we are. The Supporters Club, who along with many others have faced some quite unfair treatment in recent weeks on social media will play a big part in that. There were rumours of a number of decent bidders before the Spanish were given the green light and I don’t necessarily mean the offering the world bid by one T Frampton.

Let’s hope those bidders are still around and a deal can be swiftly made to save our football club, this time with supporter engagement that the Supporters Club didn’t feel they could offer for the Spanish bid.

The alternative is too heartbreaking to consider, we’re not dead yet but time is running out. Let’s hope the administrators manage to achieve in one month what they’ve failed to achieve in the previous six.

Sean Livesey

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