EFL refutes Wigan owner's reasons for putting club in administration

A general view of the DW Stadium, Wigan
DW Stadium Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

EFL chiefs have strongly rejected claims by the Wigan owner Au Yeung Wai Kay that the coronavirus pandemic "fundamentally undermined" his ability to fund the club and avoid a collapse into administration.

The club's administrators have written to Au Yeung's UK lawyers asking him to be interviewed in regard to the circumstances which led to the crisis less than a month after he took formal control of the Championship side.

And the EFL gave short shrift to his intimation the pandemic was chiefly to blame, responding in a statement: "The league fundamentally disagrees with the comments attributed earlier today to Mr Au Yeung Wai Kay where he stated that 'the Covid-19 pandemic has undermined the ability to fund the club'.

The EFL statement continued: "Whilst it is clear that Covid-19 has undoubtedly presented significant financial challenges to the professional game, evidence of the required source and sufficiency of funding to be invested in or otherwise made available to the club, was provided as part of the recent change of control process.

"This set of circumstances is more illustrative of the wider financial challenges facing EFL clubs, who, without a full and comprehensive reset of football's finances, including how monies are distributed throughout the game, will continue to struggle to meet the demands of an outdated and unsustainable model."

general view of the Dave Whelan statue outside the DW Stadium, home to Wigan Athletic on the day the club were placed into administration. Credit: Martin Rickett/PA

The move has wreaked sporting and financial havoc on the club. They face a 12-point penalty for entering administration, which administrators confirmed on Tuesday they have appealed against.

All sorts of theories have been posited as to why the owner took the decision he did, but he says the financial impact of the Covid-19 outbreak was to blame.

"Wigan Athletic is a wonderful football club with rich history and a passionate fanbase," Au Yeung said.

"We bought Wigan Athletic with the best intentions: to create a team that would get the club back into the Premier League, and I have invested more than £40million (to buy it and repay a loan to former owners the International Entertainment Corporation).

"Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis has severely impacted people and businesses around the world - and Championship football clubs, which rely on fans coming through the turnstiles, are no exception.

DW Stadium Credit: Martin Rickett/PA

"This has fundamentally undermined our ability to fund Wigan Athletic and, after struggling to find a solution, in the end took the difficult decision to put the club into administration to ensure its survival.

"The administrators are now doing everything they can to find a new owner who will secure the future of Wigan Athletic for the sake of the many thousands of devoted Latics fans, and the local community."

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