Wigan Athletic owner Au Yeung Wai Kay had initially enquired about putting them into administration before he had completed his takeover, it’s reported.
He had spoke to insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor about potentially doing so on the 23rd of June, which was just 24 hours prior to informing the English Football League that he had bought a 51% stake in the club.
A week later, they were duly declared insolvent. Now an independent commission is describing the situation Wigan are in as a “tragedy”.
Documents shockingly revealed that Kay had failed to inform the club’s board of the plan for administration and that he forced out the then chairman Darren Royle after the board failed to agree a loan agreement to Kay’s company.
Kay was fundamentally against the restart of the Championship season, because of the coronavirus and the costs that he would incur.
The sanction, which was implemented at the end of the final round of Championship fixtures on the 22nd of July, meant that the Latics were relegated to League One.
The commission said that Wigan have been “let down by those who appear to have seen it as an opportunity for investment and profit”.
The decision to put Wigan into administration came on the same day they were told the English Football League would advance a £2.325m solidarity payment.
A source of Begbies Traynor disputes it and has since told BBC Sport that the administration was one of a number of scenarios that were discussed within the initial chat.
However, through his solicitor, Kay had told Begbies Traynor at that time that he was "not putting another penny" into the club.
The commission said Kay wasn't open with Wigan officials and at a board meeting on the 24th of June made no mention of his conversation with Begbies Traynor the previous day - and then, on the 26th and 29th June, gave "either false or knowingly misleading" assurances over future funding.
As mentioned, Kay made it known that wasn't satisfied at the beginning of June about the EFL's decision to resume the season and, on 17 June, suspended Darren Royle, who was responsible for bringing in Wigan's ex-owner and Kay's former business partner Stanley Choi to the club as chairman in 2018.
At about the same time, Choi sold his 51% stake in the Next Leader Fund to Kay, who then refused to make available the £6m expected by Wigan "because his other business took priority", effectively sending the club into administration.
Barnsley were part the appeal proceedings as they at the time would have been relegated if Wigan's appeal was successful.
The Tykes asked for their costs to be paid by the Latics. The request was rejected by the commission.
The Joint Administrators updated the fans, employees and people of Wigan with the current situation. It read:
1. Sale of club
We are continuing talks with various interested parties and are in discussions with four bidders regarding the sale.
We have set a deadline of 31 August 2020 to agree and sign the sale contract.
If the contract is not signed by this date, we will have to reconsider the position on the basis that the new season starts a week later. The reason for this is that we will be responsible for the team at the start of the season and the fulfilment of the fixtures. Understandably, if no buyer is available, we do not wish to commit to something we cannot see through.
We are still hopeful that one of the bidders will be in a position to sign the contract as set out.
2. Player sales
We can confirm that in the last week, the registrations of Joe Gelhardt and Kieffer Moore have been sold to Leeds United and Cardiff City respectively. The Joint Administrators wish them all the best in the future.
There are further negotiations currently taking place regarding player sales and these will be announced when they are completed.
3. Supporters club
We would like to thank the Supporters Club for their continued financial support.
They have today agreed to advance us from their own funds the money to buy next season’s first team strip which will bear the Supporters Club logo for the beginning of the season.
4. Wages and salaries
We can confirm that the wages and salaries of all staff and current playing squad have been paid in full up to 31 July 2020.
With regards to players who have left the club, we are working to pay these as soon as we can and will be after the next player sale proceeds are received.
Fans reacted after seeing that the Wigan Athletic owner enquired about administration BEFORE the takeover…
Absolute joke that it was allowed to happen. I think the EFL needs to take a fit and proper test.
— Alex Rhodes (@rhodesy_92) August 17, 2020
But that would mean the EFL having to show humility and tell everyone “sorry, we f****d up”
Unfortunately ‘humility’ doesn’t exist in the EFL’s vocabulary
— Claret & Blue Pixels (@Dazzla84_SSFC) August 17, 2020
Parliament has to take the initiative and bring forward legislation to set up a new regulatory body for league clubs and their officials and to abolish the EFL with its replacement being much more transparent and accountable to football supporters and Parliament.
— Robert Kilcoyne (@robertkilcoyne2) August 17, 2020
We haven’t been singing the football league’s corrupt all these years cos it’s a catchy tune…..
— Daniel Scaife (@danpscaife) August 17, 2020
The EFL is clearly not fit for purpose and should really be abolished. Its replacement must be much more transparent and accountable to Parliament and to football supporters generally.
— Robert Kilcoyne (@robertkilcoyne2) August 17, 2020
Because the club has been saddled with a £24m loan that we didnt actually receive (he never put a penny of his own money in). We now need to pay 25% of that to him – therefore hes made £6m off us.
— mav (@sidewinder126) August 17, 2020
EFL are totally responsible for @LaticsOfficial situation. They should grow a pair and admit catastrophic failure and restore their 12 point deduction. This was a con from start to finish and they should have vetted the buyer before the sale.
— caramy64 (@zachzoe64) August 17, 2020
— J (@itsJarrodA) August 17, 2020
Stockport, Wigan, Pompey, Bury, Bolton, Blackpool and many many others have been allowed to be taken over by charlatans. The EFL haven’t been fit for purpose for decades now. The fit and proper test boils down to how much cash can you fit in a brown envelope.
— Chris Larkin (@Larkin90) August 17, 2020
I think its about time the @EFL stand up & say they have failed a number of clubs over the years letting anyone buy clubs & running them into ground!!
— Gareth LUFC CHAMPIONS 19/20 (@theband1tt) August 17, 2020
They have done that club good and proper. Proof again the efl hierarchy Know nothing about anyone coming in to buy clubs and simply have an interest in making their own profit. Absolutely disgusting as an lufc fan in glad it isn’t us again.
— Nala’s Duddy?? (@Stephen_2610) August 17, 2020