Wigan Athletic owner enquired about administration before takeover

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
DW Stadium
Wigan were 13th in the Championship before their points deduction was applied following their final-day draw with Fulham

Wigan Athletic's owner enquired about putting them into administration before he had even completed his takeover.

Au Yeung Wai Kay spoke to insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor about the possibility on 23 June - one day before informing the English Football League he had bought a 51% stake in the club.

An independent commission described the situation as a "tragedy".

The full written reasons for Wigan's failed appeal against their 12-point deduction were published on Monday.

The sanction, which came into force following the final round of Championship fixtures on 22 July, saw the Latics relegated to League One.

Wigan have been "let down by those who appear to have seen it as an opportunity for investment and profit", the commission said.

The move to place the Latics into administration came on the same day the club were told the EFL would advance a £2.325m solidarity payment.

Begbies Traynor, the club's administrator, is still attempting to find a buyer and has warned unless an agreement is reached by 31 August, it will have to consider whether the club can be funded into the 2020-21 season.

The 40-page document, made public on Monday, highlights the financial turmoil that engulfed the club through decisions taken by their Hong Kong-based owner, some of which were discussed without the knowledge of Wigan's English-based officials before Kay had secured full control.

"It may seem extraordinary that, notwithstanding the deal which was to be completed the following day which resulted in him becoming, in effect, the sole owner of the club, on 23 June Mr Kay had already contacted Begbies Traynor regarding putting the club into administration," outlined the commission.

A Begbies Traynor source disputes this version of events and has told BBC Sport that administration was one of a number of scenarios that were discussed within the initial chat.

However, through his solicitor, Kay did inform Begbies Traynor at that time that he was "not putting another penny" into the club.

The commission said Kay was "not open" with Wigan officials and at a board meeting on 24 June made no mention of his conversation with Begbies Traynor the previous day - and then, on 26 and 29 June, gave "either false or knowingly misleading" assurances about future funding.

Even prior to that, Kay was having an impact behind the scenes, complaining at the beginning of June about the EFL's decision to resume the season and, on 17 June, suspending Darren Royle, who was responsible for introducing Wigan's former owner and Kay's ex-business partner Stanley Choi to the club as chairman in 2018.

At about the same time, Choi sold his 51% stake in the Next Leader Fund to Kay, who in turn refused to make available the £6m expected by Wigan "because his other business took priority", effectively sending the club into administration.

It has also been revealed Barnsley, who were allowed to be part of the appeal proceedings on the basis they would have been relegated had Wigan been successful, asked for their costs to be paid by the Latics. The request was rejected by the commission.

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