Wigan Athletic takeover nears completion

David Sharpe and Jonathan Jackson
David Sharpe and Jonathan Jackson

The takeover of Wigan Athletic has moved a step closer with International Entertainment Corporation announcing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it’s recommending the purchase to its shareholders, whose approval should be a mere formality.

It’s just shy of a year since news first broke of the Whelan family’s intention to hand over ownership of the club to IEC, and the finishing line could be as near as next month.

According to the document, the sale is worth just over £22million, and includes the DW Stadium and the Training Centre at Euxton.

As expected, the company have signalled their intention to appoint former Everton and Manchester City manager Joe Royle and his son Darren to ‘pursue designated objectives for the future of the club’ along with existing chief executive Jonathan Jackson.

There’s no mention in the document of David Sharpe or Garry Cook, who has been acting in an advisory role in the takeover process, although the Wigan Post understands that is because they are not current ‘senior management’, and does not necessarily mean they won’t be part of the club going forwards.

“The Company does intend to recruit other professionals to strengthen up the board and the management team of the Target Group after Completion,” the document revealed.

Interestingly, there’s also mention of the groundshare agreement with Wigan Warriors, who have a lease to play at the DW Stadium until May 2025, and who have an option to extend to May 2050 if they so desire.

The document should also quash any speculation about the Warriors’ long-term future at the stadium, with IEC regarding them as a ‘valuable tenant’, whose loss would be a ‘significant risk’ to the company.

“Wigan Warriors Rugby Football League Club is a valuable tenant,” IEC report. “They pay a stadium hire fee of 10 per cent of their match ticket revenues to the Stadium.

“There is a risk that should Wigan Warriors Rugby Football League Club struggle commercially, then this will have an impact on the commercial performance of the Target Group.

“Another significant risk would be the loss of this tenant on a permanent basis.

“The Target Group will enhance its hospitality business such as catering and holding events in the Stadium to generate additional income to diversify the risk of losing such tenant.”