Wigan Athletic takeover deal agreed, with completion expected by month end
A takeover deal has been agreed to rescue Wigan Athletic FC.
Joint administrators, Begbies Traynor, issued a statement to confirm that a “siginficant step” had been achieved in the battle to save the League One side which was plunged into administration last July.
They confirmed that a sale of the club has been agreed, as well as related assets, to Middle East takeover vehicle Phoenix 21 Limited.
A Bahrain-based business is behind Manchester-based holding company Phoenix.
Begbies said they were in the process of finalising the transaction which is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
A statement said: “Contracts have been exchanged, a deposit has been received and it is envisaged that the sale will be completed by March 31, 2021 at the latest.
“The outstanding matters that need to be finalised to allow completion are practical matters around EFL (English Football League ) membership and property transfers.”
Begbies also confirmed that the sale allows for non-football creditors to be paid a minimum dividend of 25p in the £ which, under EFL rules, avoids a 15 point penalty deduction for the club, therefore improving the prospect of the Latics remaining in League One this season.
The joint administrators said: “We are working with the purchaser and their management team to ensure that the sale of the club concludes as soon as possible to allow some much needed stability both on and off the pitch.
“We have also been working closely with the EFL in relation to the sale and liaising regularly with the official supporters club.”
Phoenix is owned by Gibraltar firm Europa Point Sports and comprises a board of Wigan’s finance director Richard Bramwell, Mal Brannigan, Oliver Gottman, Thomas Markham and chairman Talal Mubarak Al Hammad. Abdulrahman Aljasmi Ubo is listed as a ‘person with significant control’.
The deal is reportedly £3m, verified by the EFL.
Talal Mubara Al Hammad said: I am delighted that we have been successful in our negotiations with the administrators and that we are now able to help restore pride and belief with everyone associated with the club.
“To Latics fans everywhere, we can only guess at the amount of hurt and distress you have felt since the club entered administration and it is now our focus to stabilise its future and to illustrate why we believe we are the best ownership group for the club.
“We know that we will have to earn your trust through actions rather than words.”
He went on to thank the support of Caroline Molyneux at the supporters’ club, and David Molyneux and Alison McKenzie-Folgan at Wigan Council and their colleagues, which he said was “extremely encouraging for the club’s future, which is one that we wholeheartedly share and are excited about.”
Fans will be hoping the deal is not another false dawn for the club, after a previous takeover fell at the final hurdle.
In early December last year, the EFL blocked a potential takeover by a Spanish bidder following its due diligence on the party.
It said in a statement: “The EFL has in recent weeks undertaken significant due diligence on the relevant parties in accordance with its regulations and, based on the information that has been made available, the board confirmed it was not in a position to agree to an application to transfer membership in the EFL to the proposed purchasers as the League’s requirements have not been satisfied.”
In early January the joint administrators revealed that the deal had collapsed after the Spanish bidder demanded a 50% reduction in the asking price at the very last minute and also wanted the EFL to agree to waive the threat of the 15-point penalty being imposed on the club, which could have led to its second relegation in as many seasons.
Following the blow, Begbies Traynor invited interest from new bidders.