These have been dark and gloomy Covid-19 months for EFL clubs, especially those in the lower tiers who are so much more reliant on gate money. Some financial support is coming in via the EFL and Premier League, but rumour suggests that several clubs are already close to folding.
For Wigan Athletic it has been particularly tough. Going under administration is difficult enough in normal times, but the pandemic has made it so much harder. Why would anyone want to buy a football club with no certainty of when gate receipts will once again underpin the finances of clubs like Latics?
But within the last couple of weeks there has been light showing at the end of the tunnel.
During that time the team has gained two consecutive victories over clubs not far from the top of the League 1 table. The wins have lifted Latics off the bottom, giving hope for what comes next. Moreover, the ownership issues are moving ahead, with Jose Miguel Garrido dropping out of the picture and Felipe Moreno seemingly the potential future owner. Given Moreno’s excellent record as an owner of a club in Spain and that his bid is being supported by the administrators, it is surely a matter of time until the takeover is ratified by the EFL.
The social media and noticeboards have been awash with debate over the Spanish bid and why the administrators have not taken away exclusivity, allowing other parties to bid. Tony Frampton’s interviews with the PWU Podcast and Jay Whittle were certainly seductive in terms of him being a Wiganer who is a director in a multinational company that has a large financial base. Some conspiracy theorists suggested that Frampton was an ally of Ian Lenagan, trying to get control of the football club to hep the rugby. Others thought that some of Frampton’s ideas were pie in the sky.
In the meantime, fans have started to warm to the idea of a Moreno takeover. Simple internet searches reveal the degree of success he has had since taking over Leganes, a relatively small club in the south western suburbs of Madrid.
Miller’s tweet was certainly uplifting. It was soon followed by a quality interview on “The Full Time Whittle” with Madrid-based journalist Sam Leveridge, detailing the achievements of Moreno and his wife, Maria Victoria Pavon, at Leganes:
Administrator Paul Stanley has said that he hopes the EFL stamp of approval will be given before Christmas. The sooner the better for Wigan Athletic with the January transfer window approaching.
The loans of Tom James, Darnell Johnson, Matty Palmer and Curtis Tilt are due to expire as are the short-term contracts of Dan Gardner, Will Keane and Viv Solomon-Otabor. Moreover, there are four players from last season’s senior squad whose contracts expire in June. Reports suggest that Kal Naismith is already interesting a couple of Championship clubs.
The sooner the takeover is ratified the better opportunity the club has of making the right decisions regarding contracts. The aim will be to put together a squad which has a backbone of experienced professionals, with continued opportunities for the under-23 squad players who have made so much progress over these months after being thrown in at the deep end.
Although Latics are still in the relegation zone they are not so far away from safety. So much will depend on what happens in that January window. But after such a gloomy period there is certainly light showing at the end of the tunnel.