Wigan Athletic: Rugby league’s Wigan Warriors owners announce intention to buy neighbours

‘Unique opportunity to bring the ownership of these two great clubs together’, says Warriors chairman

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Tuesday 07 July 2020 12:41
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The owner of rugby league’s Wigan Warriors has announced an intention to buy their troubled footballing neighbours Wigan Athletic.

The Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan, who was in charge of the EFL until late 2018, is leading a consortium which has informed the football club's administrators of their interest.

Lenagan is joined in the venture by local businessman Gary Speakman and Darryl Eales, the former chairman of Oxford United, though other investors are being approached.

The two clubs both play their home matches at the DW Stadium and Lenagan's plans have received the backing of the local council.

“Having shared a stadium together for many years and with a large number of fans supporting both clubs, we have become friends with many of the management and staff and we know that this is a very worrying time for them all,” a statement read.

“We strongly believe that Wigan Athletic is better being locally-owned. As sustainability and ownership of the stadium is equally important to both clubs, we are currently working with our longstanding advisers KPMG and talking to external parties.

“Our intention is to identify other investors quickly and start due diligence on the football club with the intention of making a bid in due course. We have made the administrators aware of our interest and hope to explore this with them further over the days ahead.”

The Warriors said that in the event of a successful takeover, the clubs would not merge and would instead retain their separate management structures and facilities.

David Molyneux, the leader of Wigan council, said the local governing body would be “very supportive of this initiative”.

Wigan’s administrators said on Tuesday that they had received three non-disclosure agreements back from potential investors outlining proof of funds.

Gerald Krasner, of insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor, added the administrators were in contact with 50 different interested parties so far.

75 members of Wigan’s non-playing staff were made redundant on Monday night following the Championship club’s fall into administration.

Lawyers have been appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding Wigan’s collapse, which came just a month after the club’s ownership changed hands from one Hong Kong-based company to another.

Krasner also said on Tuesday that the club have appealed to EFL against the 12-point deduction for entering administration, which could yet result in relegation from the Championship at the end of the season.

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