How do you begin to describe the last week? With great difficulty to be truthful, Tuesday evening Latics supporters the world over were saluting what seemed a job well done.
Paul Cook’s side had put in a fine performance to see off Stoke City and reach the magic 50 point mark, which would hopefully go some way to guaranteeing our Championship survival in to a third season and vindication of Paul Cook’s management which since the turn of the year has provided some of the most exciting and committed football we have seen in the last decade.
Even Wednesday morning brought no inkling of the bombshell that was on its way, a bomb shell that could quite literally rip our club apart. At 12:30 on Wednesday afternoon it was announced that administrators had taken control of Wigan Athletic and were urgently appealing for prospective buyers to step forward to save the club. How have we reached this point? How are we in administration when there had been no suggestion this would be the case?
Well if you scratched the surface you would see that not all was well at the Dave Whelan Stadium, the aforementioned DW who provided so much stability to the club in his 25 year spell in charge also underwrote losses during the leaner times. Knowing that Latics would be safe come what may was a great source of comfort.
Especially when the parachute payments from the Premier League ended and Latics would have to go on their own again. Perhaps this led to a softening in the supporters attitudes, indeed when IEC took over the same level of investment as the club had received under Dave Whelan continued.
This season saw investment in the playing squad and the Stadium and all seemed well with the world – but with the same nagging question at the back of the mind ‘This is all well and good but what do they want with us?’ The waters were muddied earlier this year when IEC announced due to the poor performance of the club they would be looking to offload Wigan Athletic, stranger still the new company lined up to purchase our football club was a Cayman Islands registered company shell set up by one Stanley Choi – also the president of IEC.
The deal to transfer the ownership of the club to New Leader Fund was completed on the 4th June. Indeed that day one of the ‘new’ owners a certain Mr. Au Yeung of the club in a statement on the official website stated that he looked forward to visiting Wigan soon and seeing a Latics game in the flesh. Oh and if you’ve any feedback do get in touch with us as we want to continue to grow and prosper.
So what the Hell happened in the last 26 days from that cheery announcement to where we find ourselves now? The UK directors were not told this was the intention and indeed until the administrators took over had no idea the club was heading in this direction. All they knew was that money promised to the club via the owners had not arrived and seemingly everything that was written on the clubs website on June 4th was a lie or at best simply misguided.
The EFL in all of their splendour after ‘successfully’ dealing with Bury and Bolton’s ownership struggles last season managed to score an even bigger own goal by announcing that Wigan Athletic would indeed face a 12 point deduction. Here’s the catch though – if we stay out of the bottom three, thanks in no short measure to our fantastic form since the turn of the year the penalty deduction will be applied this season. Which could well relegate the Latics, if we fall back in to the drop zone this season the deduction will be applied in League One next season.
That’s really helpful that, a few weeks ago you insisted that these chancers (I would use a stronger phrase but this is a family publication) were considered Fit and Proper Persons to own a football club. Now that we can see they clearly weren’t you punish the club rather than the owners? We shouldn’t be surprised of course, look at what the EFL did to those poor sods at Bury who saw their club stolen from under them. The only surprise is that this has happened so quickly.
I flipped between angry, upset to downright frightened on Wednesday night. I didn’t sleep and I’m sure I won’t be alone in wondering what will happen to our beloved club now. In a perfect world Dave Whelan would come to our rescue and we could continue to fight against the odds but Dave Whelan is now 83 years old and there is a reason that his family insisted he sell the football club that he had built over the last quarter of a century. It’s too much of a stretch to expect Dave to come to our rescue once again.
But now I feel a pain like no other, and pray someone somewhere wishes to take a punt on a little football club in Lancashire like Dave Whelan did 25 years ago.
We’re not the biggest football club, we’re certainly not the most glamorous but for around 10,000 people in a Lancashire town found slap bang in the middle of Liverpool and Manchester Wigan Athletic is our world.
And if not for my sake for my little boy, that little boy of five like I was when I went with my Dad to watch my football team play at Springfield Park.
I pray he can experience what I did with my Dad and a buyer can be found to save us and for us to continue to upset the odds. It isn’t over yet but it’s probably going to get a lot more painful – from the top of the world to the end of the world in twelve hours.
It’s very Wigan isn’t it?
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