Wigan Athletic granted more time to sort contracts

Wigan Athletic have been afforded some additional time to negotiate new terms with their out of contract players – after EFL clubs sanctioned a change in regulations.
Anthony PilkingtonAnthony Pilkington
Anthony Pilkington

The EFL had put forward a number of proposals in an attempt to help clubs deal with the contractual issues posed by the suspension of league action.

Contracts generally expire on June 30 but, with action in the EFL set to continue past that date, provisions were suggested to ensure that out-of-contract players would be able to play in any fixtures falling after this date.

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And the Wigan Post has exclusively learned that, while never publicly announced, the changes were approved by clubs at a meeting in late May.

Four main changes to contractual regulations have now been agreed:

* Rival clubs cannot approach players whose contracts expire on June 30 until June 24. Under previous rules, they were able to approach these players after the third Saturday in May.

* Clubs have until June 23 to offer players a new contract or release them.

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* In the event that fixtures will continue past June 30, out of contract players can sign a short-term extension which will run until such a point as the 2019/20 season is completed.

* If a player leaves a club and agrees to sign for another, they will not be eligible for any fixtures until the 2020/21 campaign begins.

All changes are consistent with FIFA guidance issued in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

These adapted regulations apply to all three EFL divisions, but the final two points will likely only prove relevant to Championship clubs given League One and League Two look likely to be curtailed in the coming weeks.

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It is the first point which bares most relevance for Wigan, who see seven first-team contracts expire this summer.

In previous transfer windows, clubs would have now been able to approach the likes of Michael Jacobs, Chey Dunkley and Anthony Pilkington with contract offers of their own – regardless of whether Latics wished to retain their services.

But these changes ensure no formal approach can be made to a player until June 24 – giving Latics additional time to agree new terms with players.

As it stands Jacobs, Dunkley, Pilkington, Gary Roberts, Lewis Macleod, Danny Fox and Joe Garner all see their contracts at the DW expire on or before June 30.

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In addition, the loan spells of Dujon Sterling (Chelsea), Leon Balogun, Jan Mlakar (both Brighton), Kieran Dowell (Everton) and Alex Dobre (Bournemouth) finish on the same date.

Latics will have to submit their retained list by no later than June 23 under the new regulations – previously, this would have had to have been mid-May – but may announce contract extensions or departures before that point.