Wigan owners confirm sale to Hong Kong consortium

London (AFP) –


Wigan's owners confirmed the proposed sale of their shareholding in the League One champions to a Hong Kong-based consortium on Monday.

The Latics have been owned by the Whelan family since 1995, but the International Entertainment Corporation has now agreed to buy their majority stake.

The offer depends on Hong Kong Stock Exchange approval, as well as consent from the English Football League.

If the deal goes through, the new owners will take charge of a club that will go into the Championship next season after Paul Cook's side won promotion from the third tier.

Wigan, relegated from the Premier League in 2013 after winning the FA Cup days earlier, spent eight seasons in the top tier thanks to the investment of Dave Whelan, who bank-rolled their rise from lower league obscurity and funded the construction of a new stadium.

Formers sports retail tycoon Whelan, 81, ceded day-to-day control of Wigan to his grandson David Sharpe in 2015.

"After several months of discussions, negotiations and due diligence, we have now agreed, in principle, to transfer the entire shareholdings of Wigan Athletic Holdings Limited, which owns the majority shareholding in the operating companies of Wigan Athletic Football Club and the DW Stadium, to International Entertainment Corporation (IEC), subject to Hong Kong Stock Exchange approval and EFL consent," Sharpe said in a statement on Monday.

"It is important to confirm that this process, which has taken longer than expected, has now reached the next stage.

"Whilst we await formal approval and consent by the aforementioned parties, which may take some time, the Whelan family will do whatever it can to support the business operations and IEC during this transition.

"This continued support will ensure that the management team can lead the business during this important transition period which will include the summer player transfer window as the club and the first-team manager prepare for the exciting challenge of competing in the EFL Championship next season and beyond."

IEC, a Hong Kong-based group incorporated in the Cayman Islands, describes itself as a hotel operator and also manages the "leasing of properties for casino and ancillary leisure and entertainment operations".

The group owns the AG New World Manila Bay Hotel and casino in the Philippines capital.