Wigan Athletic 'as attractive as it'll ever be' - admin

Now is the ‘ideal time’ to buy Wigan Athletic –  insists one of the administrators charged with finding a buyer.
Paul StanleyPaul Stanley
Paul Stanley

Latics are still on the market, having been in administration since July 1, with none of the interested parties so far having met the asking price.

It’s undoubtedly the worst possible time to be looking for investment, with the financial landscape having changed for most during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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However, Paul Stanley believes the current situation – with the planned return of spectators to sports venues from October 1 being put on hold for six months due to fears over a second wave of the virus – could actually end up being beneficial to Latics moving forward.

“What’s happened this week clearly isn’t great,” Stanley told Wigan Today.

“But if somebody wants to get into football, it’s almost the ideal time to buy Wigan Athletic, perversely.

“You’re getting a football club that is debt free, there’s no skeletons, you don’t owe money to any other club – like every single other club does.

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“That gives you a big advantage coming out of the other side.

"Every other club is going to get a whacking great bill next year – this one won’t.

“If ever there is a time to buy Wigan Athletic, this is it.

"All you have to cover are the running costs, with no baggage.

"That has to make it as attractive as it’s ever going to be.”

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Stanley’s firm, Begbies Traynor, released a statement yesterday revealing details of a couple of near-misses on the takeover front – ruined, they say, by speculation in the national media.

They claimed an unnamed investor was prepared to deposit £4million with their lawyers but backed off after social media speculation about a rival £2million bid from a French-American consortium.

That offer belatedly came but only with the caveat that Wigan’s administrators would be responsible for a £1.3million payment to creditors that would see the club avoid a 15-point deduction. The bid was turned down.

Two other proposals have fallen significantly short of the £4million asking price – including the DW Stadium, Christopher Park and Sharpey’s – and Stanley explains why.

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“I’ve said this before, if somebody wants to give us £2.25million they can have it – and take the 15-point deduction (for not paying creditors 25p in the pound),” he said.

“But if you want the creditors paid, which the Americans wanted, I have to clear the VAT bill and the PAYE bill.

“The law won’t allow me to pay the creditors before I’ve cleared those.

“It’s as simple as that, and we’ve done it in a way which is very transparent and it all works.

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“But when they come back and say we’ll not do £3million, we’ll do £2million, and out of that you need to pay the creditors...I’m asking how I pay the PAYE bill.

“They don’t want to get involved in that discussion, but the law says I can’t pay the creditors.

"It just doesn’t work legally, and I’m finding myself repeating stuff over and over again.”

He says there are still interested parties who are in negotiations at the moment.

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“I had somebody in on Monday, there’s another coming in tomorrow, there’s new people coming in all the time from all over the world,” Stanley revealed.”

He also defended the players the administrators have sold, which has seen all but one of the team that started the final game of last season – Kal Naismith – moving on.

“I think when people look back on this, they will see the player sales we’ve done have been absolutely remarkable in the current market,” he said.

“We don’t live on FIFA, where you’ve got a kid in his bedroom thinking player x is worth £8million.

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“Players are only worth what other clubs are willing to pay for them.

“And in the current market, every single club, believe me, is trying to get their costs down.

“Because they’ve been told it might be another six months before crowds come back.”