"They've got to prove funds of a minimum of £10m," says joint administrator Gerald Krasner
Thursday 2 July 2020 22:00, UK
Administrators in charge of Wigan Athletic say 12 parties have expressed an interest in buying the Championship club and must now prove they have funds of at least £10m to progress in negotiations.
Wigan entered administration on Wednesday, the first professional club to do so in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and are set to be handed a 12-point penalty by the EFL.
Paul Stanley, Gerald Krasner and Dean Watson from Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators of the club, and Krasner says there has been significant interest in buying the Latics.
"Realistically, I've got 12 interested parties that have emailed me already," he said.
"I'm going to send out today non-disclosure agreements and ask for proof of funds because you get some very peculiar people who want to buy football clubs that have got no money.
"When they've returned with proof of funds, those people will get details of what's for sale and then the serious negotiations will start, so I hope by the end of July - the end of the season - to have got serious interested parties on board.
"What I predicted yesterday was that we'd get 30 interested parties and if I can get it down to two, I'll be very happy. Any more I'd be delighted."
When asked what would be a suitable offer for Wigan, Krasner added: "They've got to prove funds of a minimum of £10m.
"Would I take £10m today for everything? No."
Krasner said he had already appraised Latics manager Paul Cook of the situation and said he would not interfere in team matters.
The club are 14th at present with six games to go. If they finish outside the bottom three, then the 12-point deduction - if not appealed - would apply to the 2019-20 table. If they are relegated, the deduction would apply at the start of their 2020-21 League One campaign.
Krasner did not rule out the possibility of an appeal, adding: "There are rights of appeal in unusual circumstances, it's called force majeure.
"I've not yet had the letter from the Football League, I've seen what they have said publicly, but until I've seen the letter and consider it with my lawyers I'm not sure how we're going to deal with this and I couldn't possibly tell you today what's going to happen."
A deal to sell Wigan from the Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation to the Next Leader Fund was only formally completed on June 4, and former Leeds United chairman Krasner says the events of the last few weeks need to be investigated.
Asked how unusual a club being placed in administration four weeks after a sale was, he said: "I think that's a first and that will have to be looked at in due course.
"But my priorities at the moment are to get this club sold and make sure we get to the end of the season so that there is a club next season.
"Every administration I've been involved in - and even Leeds United which wasn't an administration - has its peculiarities. But I think four weeks is a record that will stand for some time."
Krasner believes a number of other clubs in the Football League could enter administration, including another team in the Championship.
"My firm does a football health check every December, and December 2019 things were looking OK but then the world changed," he said.
"Everything we thought about the world of football has gone out the window.
"It is my personal view that there are a number of clubs in the lower divisions, League One and League Two, that may not survive by coming back.
"There is possibly one more Championship club that may seriously be thinking about doing the same."
Former Wigan midfielder Michael Brown is surprised the club has gone into administration so soon after being taken over.
He said: "At the end of May, there was a takeover, there was a new company set up and an existing director transferred into that but nobody really knows who is actually part of this company and who the owners are.
"I believe people in the club are still unaware of who the owners are. It is extremely strange that the EFL have managed to pass this through. There was money promised last week to try and let this not happen.
"But it hasn't happened and obviously the club has gone into administration. Very, very sad."
Former Wigan player Emile Heskey, who played for the Latics between 2006 and 2009, says while the club has been on the decline, the descent into administration is tough to take for a side above the relegation zone in the Championship.
"It's a difficult one for Wigan fans and for Wigan people to take, to be honest with you," Heskey told The Football Show.
"[It is a] wonderful, wonderful club, great fanbase - local fanbase - who get behind you, never really boo, never really moan or groan about anything, they just get on with things.
"It has been a slow decline, but they have come back up again and obviously with the pandemic hitting a lot of clubs, Wigan has obviously been one of the first ones looking to go into administration.
"It is difficult to take being in the Championship. It is not like they are bottom of the Championship, they are in the middle really trying to fight to get a bit higher.
"Hopefully they can sort out all the problems and get a buyer who will put the necessary investment into the club to push them to where, we believe, they should be."
Meanwhile, an EFL spokesman has clarified the situation over a video posted on social media of chairman Rick Parry discussing the club's situation with a fan.
"The EFL is aware of a video of its chairman posted on social media this evening that discusses recent developments at Wigan Athletic," a statement read.
"It was part of a much wider and impromptu discussion he was having with a Wigan supporter he does not know but who lives in the same area.
"The private conversation focused around the events of the last 24-48 hours, how the EFL can assist and what happens next. The various rumours and reports that have been circulating throughout today were also discussed.
"Whilst the chairman was unaware he was being filmed, he was happy to engage in the debate and appreciates this is a concerning and challenging time for all those associated with the club."