Wigan Athletic’s administrators will launch an investigation into the club's switch of ownership once they have saved it from going under. They have been unable to guarantee players’ wages for Friday’s payday and must raise funds for travel to face Brentford at the weekend.
Gerald Krasner, of insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor, has been appointed to find new owners after Next Leader Fund completed a takeover earlier this month and put them into administration within a month, just before salaries were due to be paid.
“The money I have to raise now is for the travelling expenses for the match on Saturday,” said Krasner. “It is to pay the day-to-day items as well as wages. I am not going to guarantee anything. We are going to do our best because if wages are paid, even if they are not paid in full, everybody feels a bit better.”
On the prospect of the owner putting in money, Krasner added: “Not one penny.”
He believes there is a 25 per cent chance Wigan will fail to see out the remaining six Championship games of the season. Their 12-point deduction means they are fighting relegation.
Championship 2019/20 latest standings (bottom half)
Krasner has 12 interested buyers, including one from Spain, but they need to provide proof of £10 million in funds and be willing to take on debt of at least £6m. Without a solution to the current owner pulling out, Krasner believes it is “as bad as Bury”, who were expelled from the EFL.
Rival clubs have already made approaches for some the club's younger players - such as Antonee Robinson - in anticipation of a firesale.
The facts of the matter are that the coronavirus pandemic has not been solely to blame for the club going into administration. It is the ownership of the club which will be the focus of an investigation from Krasner.
International Entertainment Corporation (IEC), led by chairman Stanley Choi, bought the club two years ago. There was then a change of ownership on June 4 to Next Leader Fund, which Choi has a 51 per cent stake in.
It is unclear what Choi’s motive was for the change and Krasner did not comment on the suggestion Choi didn't want administration on IEC’s record.
“I think four weeks is a record which will stand for some time,” said Krasner. “That will have to be looked at in due course, but my priorities at the moment are effectively to get this club sold and make sure we get to the end of the season, so there is a club next season the fans can watch.
“They had a plan and the owners have said they’re not putting any more money in, so I’m sat here.”
Krasner has asked former chairman David Sharpe for advice during the salvage operation. Sharpe is grandson of former owner David Whelan, but Krasner does not believe the family will buy back the club. He also fears for other EFL sides.
“It’s my personal view that there are a number of clubs in the lower divisions, Leagues One and Two, that may not survive by coming back,” he said. “There’s possibly at least one Championship club that may seriously be thinking about doing the same.
”We are living in such peculiar times that the PL and EFL might have to revise, short-term, its insolvency rules if a number of clubs start going over. Also, they need to start looking at foreign ownership a bit more.”