Wigan Warriors owner Ian Lenagan is leading a bid for beleaguered neighbours Wigan Athletic after the Championship club was placed into administration last week.
The Latics now face a 12-point deduction – and possible relegation – after being sold from International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) to Next Leader Fund four weeks ago, with Chinese businessman Wai Kay Au Yeung replacing Dr Choi Chui Fai Stanley as majority shareholder of NLF shortly after purchase.
Amid reports, repeated by EFL chairman Rick Parry, that their plight is linked to a bet in the Philippines on the club being relegated, the immediate priority for administrators is finding a buyer and Lenagan, along with Darryl Eales and Gary Speakman, is keen to step in.
Wigan Athletic may be purchased by Wigan Warriors after being placed in administration
Wigan Warriors owner Ian Lenegan has confirmed his intention to purchase the crisis club
A statement read: ‘Being born and bred in Wigan, Ian Lenagan and Gary Speakman understand what both clubs mean to the local community.
‘We strongly believe that Wigan Athletic is better being locally-owned.
‘As sustainability and ownership of the stadium is equally important to both clubs, we are currently working with our longstanding advisers KPMG and talking to external parties.’
Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic groundshare DW Stadium and have done so since 1999
The rugby league side already groundshare at the DW Stadium, which is 85 percent owned by Wigan Athletic and 15 percent owned by Wigan local authority, with Wigan Warriors agreeing a 50-year lease when they both moved in in 1999.
Local MP Lisa Nandy has written to the government and the English Football League asking for an inquiry as the 2013 FA Cup winners stare down the barrel.
There are concerns over the EFL imposing a 12-point penalty and stopping a £230,000 payment on the club having initially approved the sale, while the Premier League have also withheld £2.3million in solidarity payments.
Local MP Lisa Nandy has raised her concerns over the current situation involving Wigan
The club’s human resources department also informed staff and players they would not be paid their wages due to issues with the payroll system amid the ongoing troubles.
After beating relegation rivals Stoke 3-0, the club are six points clear of the drop but the 12-point deduction would send them bottom with five games to play.
Should they go down without a deduction, it would then apply from the start of next season.
Rugby league side Wigan Warriors have enjoyed success under Lenegan’s tenure
The statement added: ‘Our intention is to identify other investors quickly and start due diligence on the football club with the intention of making a bid in due course.
‘We have made the administrators aware of our interest and hope to explore this with them further over the days ahead.
‘Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic are both local sporting institutions and it is our belief that this is a unique opportunity here to bring the ownership of these two great clubs together under one roof, each operating independently as before, but under a Wigan Sporting Partnership banner.
‘It is envisaged that each club would retain all its training grounds, management and facilities.’
Lenagan purchased Wigan Warriors in 2007 from former Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan, who stepped down from the football club in 2013.
Lenegan was also previously chairman at League One play-off finalists Oxford and recently spent a term as EFL chairman, having replaced Greg Clarke in the role in 2016.
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