Lisa Nandy MP lifts lid on Wigan Athletic situation - which 'is being taken seriously now'

Lisa Nandy says she is 'more confident' than she was about the future of Wigan Athletic after the players' wages were finally paid - because the situation 'is being taken seriously now' by the owners.

The Latics squad finally received their overdue wages on Friday evening - exactly two weeks late, and two weeks before their next four-weekly salaries are due.

It was the fourth time this season the wages weren't paid on time, which eventually triggered a three-point deduction from the EFL which leaves Latics needing snookers at the bottom of the Championship.

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Wigan MP Nandy played her part in the resolution after being contacted by Caroline Molyneux, the chair of the Supporters Club.

Lisa Nandy MP at the DW StadiumLisa Nandy MP at the DW Stadium
Lisa Nandy MP at the DW Stadium
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Talal Al Hammad outlines plans for Wigan Athletic rebuild in a 'sustainable futu...

And she's lifted the lid on the events of the last fortnight that - for many Latics fans - brought back awful memories of the administration hell of 2020.

"I've been keeping an eye on what's been happening for a few months, because of the ongoing issues with late payments," Ms Nandy said.

"But it was when Caroline rang me and said 'there's a real problem here' that I really spun into action.

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"I've worked with Caroline a lot, including during the dark days of administration, and I know she doesn't say things if they're not true.

"When she said there was a problem, I knew there was a problem.

"She'd been speaking with (chairman) Talal (Al Hammad) regularly, and so I picked up the phone to him straight away to ask what was happening.

"He was very reassured about the fact that both he and Mr Al Jasmi remained committed to the club.

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"There was no question about them pulling the funding or them putting us into administration, and there was no bigger issue other than money simply not being in the bank account when they needed to move it.

"Ever since then we've had daily, sometimes several times daily, conversations where they've maintained the issue was administrative and not any lack of will on their part.

"And I have to say that is very different to what we were dealing with before, when we were placed into administration, and the radio silence was very, very worrying.

"So I felt reassured, but of course you can never be totally assured until the money is in the account and the staff and players have been paid."

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Ms Nandy says the biggest cause of alarm was the regularity with which the cash-flow problems have been happening.

"One of the things I wanted to understand was how this could keep happening and I think, without betraying any confidences, because he's coming over in the next few days, and he's promised he's going to be very open and honest about what's gone wrong, and he's happy to answer any questions," she said.

"It's only fair to let him tell his story, but one thing that was clear to me was there were a lot of communication issues going on - a lack of communication, and a lot of miscommunications.

"One of the things I wanted the EFL to have a look at, through the independent unit they've set up, is how the club is being run.

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"When Wigan Athletic was sold to Mr Al Jasmi, there was a very clear agreement that we're a very good club, but we're not in the Premier League, and we can't afford to be run as though we are.

"We needed to make sure we are self-sustainable, and when Jonathan Jackson was chief executive, that was exactly how we were run.

"The future of Wigan Athletic is far too important to be taking unnecessary risks with our financial sustainability.

"I wanted to be absolutely sure that agreement was being respected, and I have to say the EFL have been extremely helpful.

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"They are very, very keen to do whatever they can to make sure the club doesn't only survive, but is able to go from strength to strength.

"The suspended three-point deduction was only about making sure the wages were paid, and to get the club to get its affairs in order.

"They also took me through the potential consequences of the players continuing to not get paid, and the very, very serious prospect of us not being able to fulfil our fixtures this season, and what that would mean.

"I relayed all of this to the chairman, and I think there is a sense that this is being taken seriously now.

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"We've got a number of meetings set up when the chairman is over, and I hope we can ensure there's no repeat of the problems we've had over the last few months.

"I'm more optimistic now than at any other point over the last week, which has felt like about 10 years.

"I wouldn't say I'm completely confident about where we are, but I'm more confident about the situation, because of the lines of communication that have been opened with the owners and other key figures.

"We've got people talking, on the same page in full understanding of how serious this is.”

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Speaking on the 'Progress With Unity' podcast, Ms Nandy also underlined her desire to see the club cut its cloth more accordingly in future - which the chairman has already stated is his intention.

"We've got a clear understanding that, going forward, we need a Wigan Athletic that is self-sustainable,” she added.

"My understanding is the club has to submit its forecast for the season, and the EFL is under duty to check that it is affordable, and the owner does have the money to meet the commitments.

"The owners passed the test this season, so they were confident the money was going to be there.

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"What's more difficult is for them to comment on the model the club is pursuing, and that's something I was keen to get more information about, and what I'll be discussing with the chairman when he's over.

"I was there at the dinner when Dave Whelan handed over the reins to Mr Al Jasmi, and there was a shared understanding at that point that the club had to be self-sustainable.

"We'd been through a really rocky period, where we'd almost lost the club, and what we wanted most of all was stability.

"We weren't chasing dreams, we just wanted to stabilise the situation and then start to build from there, and I think that's still the aim for the chairman."

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