The 11th of May 2013 is a day that will live long in the memory of every living Latics fan, when Wigan Athletic upset the odds to beat Manchester City and lifted the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. It was a bittersweet occasion as they were relegated from the Premier League that season, and so the rollercoaster journey began.
A few seasons were spent bouncing between the Championship and League One, with several managers coming and going in that time. In 2018, the Whelan family, who had owned the club for 23 years, sold it to the Hong Kong-based company International Entertainment Corporation (IEC). After less than two years, IEC offloaded the club to another Hong Kong firm, Next Leader Fund (NLF), and that’s when the ride got really bumpy.
A month after NLF took charge, news broke that Wigan Athletic had gone into administration, which meant they faced a 12-point deduction. Conspiracy theories popped up when Rick Parry was secretly recorded talking about large bets on Wigan to be relegated, which happened at the end of the season. Unable to be saved from administration, Begbies Traynor were appointed as official administrators with the goal of saving the club from going out of existence and trying to find a new owner.
A light at the end of the tunnel
After a turbulent time, finally, a reason to cheer – Wigan Athletic Football Club has found a new owner. A deal has been reached with Phoenix 2021 Limited – a UK-based company that is owned by Bahraini businessman Abdulrahman Al-Jasmi.
In a set of statements, the club’s administrators were eager to point out, “The sale allows for non-football creditors to be paid a minimum dividend of 25p in the pound which avoids a 15-point penalty deduction for the club which improves the prospect of remaining in League One this season.” Currently, the Latics are in 21st place in League One, and another point deduction would certainly have sent them tumbling to their second relegation in two seasons. They now have a fighting chance to avoid this.
The club’s new chairman, Talal Al-Hammad, speaking on behalf of Phoenix 2021 that they are delighted to have secured a deal to take over Wigan Athletic and they are intent on ‘restoring pride and belief’ in football club. Adding that he knows they will have to earn Latics’ fans trust through actions rather than mere words.
Not wanting to comment further, it remains to be seen what level of investment Phoenix 2021 Limited will inject into Wigan. The club is without a permanent manager since John Sheridan left five months ago. They have also sold a lot of their young talent over the past few years to keep things. Building will have to start from the ground up but if Mr Al-Jasmi’s tenure is successful, perhaps Wigan fans will get more memories to add to that glorious day at Wembley in 2013.