We're doing 'everything we can to help' Wigan Athletic, insists Council CEO

Wigan Council have refuted any suggestion that the proposed takeover of Wigan Athletic is being held up by leasing issues at the DW Stadium.

Sunday, 29th November 2020, 2:31 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th November 2020, 2:34 pm
Alison McKenzie-Folan outside Wigan Town Hall

And Alison McKenzie-Folan, chief executive, has reiterated the desire of everyone connected with the Council to do 'everything we can to help' secure a successful outcome.

The Spanish bidders, who had their offer accepted by the administrators exactly two months ago, are still trying to get approval from the EFL.

Administrator Paul Stanley revealed on Friday the stumbling block was the Owners and Directors - the so-called 'fit and proper person's' - Test.

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And Mrs McKenzie-Folan says the Council are just waiting to provide support to whoever gets the green light to take control.

"We've been doing our best since day one to support the administrators, the Supporters Club, and the multiple bidders that have come forward," she said.

"In fact, we have met the Spanish face to face, so we have been playing our part and doing everything we can to help.

"Obviously when the Spanish advanced to the exclusivity process, you then have to go through a proper process.

"Essentially where we're at, we want to assign the lease on the same terms. We're not trying to change anything at all.

"Obviously we own the land, but we don't own the stadium.. we did have a 15 per cent stake in the previous holding company that owned the stadium, but that went into administration.

"Because of the lease arrangement in the past, we've never taken any money out of the club.

"In effect, it was paid in kind, for things like community activities and things like that. So there's no issue whatsoever over money.

"The issue that seems to be around at the moment is we're trying to 'protect' the Warriors.

“Once we assign the lease to the new company, their arrangements are their arrangements - and we hope an agreement is reached and our involvement will be minimal.

"Obviously they're a stakeholder, but whatever future arrangement the buyer has with the rugby club is largely up to them."

Mrs McKenzie-Folan also explained why the Council cannot agree a leasing arrangement with any bidder - the Spanish or otherwise - before they have been passed by the EFL.

"The reason it seems to be going round in circles is the lawyers obviously want to do their due diligence," she said.

"So until the EFL come out and say they've passed the fit and proper person's test, and they haven't confirmed they have the means, we're a little bit nervous.

"We've told the administrators in various conversations that we have absolutely no problem if they pass the due diligence, they can have the lease.

"It will go across on the same terms to the new company, and we wouldn't try to change any of the terms to enable us to take any money.

"We're not trying to take any money out of the club in any way, shape or form.

"Given the previous problems, I think everyone's just a little bit nervous to make sure there's no problems with this one.

"The worst thing we can do is assign the lease and then the EFL declares there's a problem.

"Once everybody's happy, and the EFL gives the green light, we are ready to assign the lease to the Spanish or whoever takes over the club."

She also addressed the suggestion raised by a section of the Latics fanbase on social media that the Council's actions were being swayed by wanting to secure the best outcome for the town's rugby club rather than its stricken football side.

"We wouldn't do anything to get in the way of the football club being saved," she added.

"People will think I'm bound to say that, but we know how catastrophic it would be if the football club didn't get saved.

"There'd be the effect on the town, the community...what it means to people, the mental health aspect - it's just massive.

"We will do everything we can to protect the future of the football club, we know how important sport, in all forms, is across our borough.

"I know there's a misconception among some that we love the rugby club more than the football club, and we're trying to protect the rugby club's interests - and that's just not the case.

"We've got plenty of season-ticket holders in the Council, let's put it that way. We feel passionately about both clubs.

"We certainly don't have any conflict of interests going on, there's a lot of vested interest here in the club being saved."