Wigan Athletic owner Au Yeung Wai Kay waives £36m debt owed to him by club in attempt to woo buyer

Wigan owner Au Yeung Wai Kay has waived a total of £36m in debts owed to him by the troubled club, removing the threat of a further points penalty next season as administrators try to find a new buyer.

Yeung, who owns both the Next Leader Fund and Wigan Athletic Holdings Limited, was owed separate debts of £25.3m and £10.7m by the club, but administrators announced on Thursday that the Hong Kong businessman had ceded his right to repayment.

Removal of the debts should make the club a significantly more attractive proposition for any potential new buyer to take on.

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“(Yeung) has given the administrators the powers necessary to put this into effect and to use all monies for the benefit of the club,” a statement from the administrators said. “By waiving all his rights Mr Yeung has also made it much more possible to pay the necessary 25p dividend to the creditors and thus avoid a further 15-point penalty next season.”

The statement said that Yeung had “cooperated fully for the benefit of the club” and acted “in order to ensure the survival of the club and to give the administrators the best possible chance to agree a sale”.

Wigan were acquired by a company owned by Dr Stanley Choi in November 2018 and subsequently sold to another company, Next Leader Fund, of which Choi held a 51 per cent shareholding and Yeung 49 per cent, in May 2020. Yeung later bought Dr Choi’s 51 per cent interest for £20m, effectively giving him sole control of the club.

But the club were placed into administration on 1 July, and were subsequently hit with a 12-point penalty which saw them relegated to League One at the end of the Championship season.

The full written reasons for that penalty, published on Monday, included the revelation that Yeung had enquired about putting the club into administration before he had completed his takeover on 24 June.

A new owner is now being sought, but administrators responded to a report in a national newspaper suggesting that Randy Frankel and Michael Kalt had made an offer by saying that “no credible bid has been received from this organisation that would lead to the saving of the football club”.

“Talks are however continuing with serious bidders with a view to bring a successful sale to fruition,” the statement said.

PA

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