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Wigan Athletic enters administration after Hong Kong takeover

WIGAN, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: General view of the DW Stadium, home of Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors on March 19, 2020 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

English football club Wigan Athletic has gone into administration less than four weeks after being taken over by a Hong Kong-based partnership.

Au Yeung Wai Kay, a businessman from Hong Kong, took over Championship club on June 4. His Next Leader Fund acquired the club from another Hong Kong-based organisation, International Entertainment Corporation, which bought the club in November 2018.

Paul Stanley, Gerald Krasner, and Dean Watson of UK professional services firm Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators of the club. In a statement on Wigan’s website, Stanley said: “We understand that everybody connected with the club and the wider football world is seeking clarity on the future of Wigan Athletic. That’s exactly what we are seeking to provide as we move through this process and we seek out interested parties to rescue this famous old club here in the region. It is a fast-moving situation and we will provide updates on key developments.”

Previous owners IEC had bought the club from the Whelan family, led by local businessman and former footballer Dave Whelan. In an interview with local publication Wigan Today, Whelan said: “I had no idea that the club was in any difficulties. I’ve not been to a game since last December and of course have had nothing to do with its running, so this came as a complete surprise. I don’t know what’s gone wrong.”

On whether he could again take over, Whelan said: “I can’t promise anything. I’m 83 and I have no idea about the depths of the club’s financial problems and how much they owe…You can’t blindly make commitments to bail a business out come what may. We sit on the fence and wait to see what details – if any – emerge.”

Under Whelan’s control, Wigan spent eight seasons in the Premier League before it was were relegated in 2013, the same season it won the FA Cup.

Wigan is currently 14th in the Championship with 50 points, eight points clear of the relegation zone with six games to play. The English Football League confirmed that the club will be docked 12 points, the standard penalty for entering administration.