'Eight-figure investment will safeguard next season', pledges Wigan Athletic chairman
Al Hammad issued a lengthy open letter to the club's supporters, who have been waiting on tenterhooks all week for the promised funds to arrive.
The statement will go some way towards allaying those fears, although Latics WILL start next term with an eight-point deduction after their deadline for sending over 125 per cent of the estimated wage bill passed on Wednesday night.
“After a difficult 12 months on and off the field and with much speculation in the media and on social media, I wanted to take this opportunity to add some clarity on the circumstances of the past, as well as outline our plans for the upcoming season," Al Hammad wrote.
"Thank you to all Wigan Athletic staff, players and fans for your efforts and commitment over what has been an extremely challenging year for all involved.
"Firstly, I want to confirm that an eight figure sum is currently being processed and is due to land in the club account imminently.
"This funding will also ensure the financial stability for June and the 2023/24 season.
"We have been transparent with the EFL who have had full visibility of this amount throughout the process following Friday’s [19 May] statement.
"It is important to address the numerous late wage payments.
"As I have previously stated, I recognise this is totally unacceptable.
"Since Phoenix 2021 acquired Wigan Athletic in 2021, the ownership group will have invested over £30million in the club to date.
"In the first year, we invested a large proportion of that to transform a squad of three players into a squad capable of competing for promotion back to the Championship within two seasons.
"This investment paid off as we gained promotion at the first time of asking, but it also meant we had a much increased wage budget to fund this season.
"As time went on and with the realisation we needed to strengthen again in the summer and in the January transfer window, the wage budget, was unfortunately becoming more and more unmanageable.
"The inflated wage bill resulted in cash flow issues which meant we could not adhere to the Agreed Decision with the EFL in January.
"However, everything possible was done to ensure wages were paid.
"Delays are a common occurrence with overseas transactions, but that is not and cannot be an excuse for the late payments.
"Clearly the change of Managers, which we felt needed to happen, did not have the desired impact on results.
"Mistakes were clearly made, but we now have the right manager in charge in Shaun Maloney.
"That has been clear in his short time with us.
"Shaun and his staff have worked extremely hard and although we did not retain our Championship status, we have all seen the improvement in the squad and individuals.
"His knowledge of Wigan Athletic and desire to succeed has brought the connection between the manager, players and fans back to this club.
"We have learnt from the unsustainable wage budget of this season and consequently have developed a more sustainable strategy for the club, focused on the development of younger players, especially those that have come through the Wigan Athletic 3PL Academy.
"A new CEO and Sporting Director will be announced over the coming weeks to ensure these plans are properly implemented.
"The board will also commit to having regular meetings with fan representatives who can input into strategic club decision making.
"The club, this week announced our annual retain list.
"I want to pay tribute to all players who will leave Wigan Athletic as well as our loan players returning to their parent clubs.
"As an ownership group, board and of course with Shaun’s input, we are positive the squad will evolve throughout the summer with a mix of both young and more experienced players, in line with a sustainable wage budget.
"Our recruitment process is already vastly improved on previous years, with more modern processes and structures being implemented.
"This will continue over the coming weeks, months and seasons ahead.
"After meetings with the board and technical board, that wage budget for this coming season has been agreed.
"It will be over 65 per cent less than what it was this season, making it a much more sustainable budget from an ownership perspective.
"We know, however, that this will still be a competitive budget in League One.
"A pre-season training camp will also shortly be announced alongside a number of high-profile friendlies as Shaun prepares his squad for the new campaign.
"There is also a huge amount of hard work going on off the field and we look forward to announcing a number of commercial partnerships ahead of next season.
"The Latics Store will undergo a refurbishment this summer which we are providing funds for.
"The store will more than double in size and this will allow for greater revenue.
"There is also work going on behind the scenes to ensure the purchasing of tickets is a smoother process for all fans.
"There have been many questions about the owner's commitment to the club.
"He is fully committed to Wigan Athletic.
"As an ownership group and board, we recognise we have a lot of trust to rebuild and this starts again now.
"I will also be in attendance more regularly this season and the communication from the board needs to be much clearer in this new era.
"We will start next season with a points deduction and that, we truly regret and apologise to all fans and stakeholders.
"This is a culmination of the struggles of the past season.
"We cannot change the past, but what we can do is look to the future.
"We recognise we must rebuild trust with you.
"Finally I want to thank you, the fans, for your patience.
"Thank you to the almost 4,000 fans who have already shown their unwavering support to the Latics through the purchase of 2023/24 season tickets.
"This is an increase on numbers at the same time last season which is incredible.
""I would encourage everyone else to please support Shaun Maloney and his squad by purchasing your season tickets now.
"Fans are the lifeblood of clubs and without your support, we would not have a club.”