Championship side Wigan have gone into administration as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic starts to be felt in the English Football League.
The club, who won the FA Cup in 2013, will be deducted 12 points as a result of the move, but this will not be applied until the end of the Championship season.
If they are relegated, the sanction would be applied to the start of their League One campaign in 2020-21, but if their results on the pitch are good enough to stay up, it will be applied to the final 2019-20 table instead.
— EFL Communications (@EFL_Comms) July 1, 2020
The club are currently in 14th on 50 points, and a 12-point drop would take them bottom and four points adrift of safety.
The news was confirmed in a statement from the club’s joint administrators on Wednesday lunchtime.
One of the administrators from Begbies Traynor, Gerald Krasner, said: “Our immediate objectives are to ensure the club completes all its fixtures this season and to urgently find interested parties to save Wigan and the jobs of the people who work for the club.
“Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club.
“Wigan Athletic has been a focal point and source of pride for the town since 1932 and anyone who is interested in buying this historic sporting institution should contact the joint administrators directly.”
The Latics have six games left to play. The second tier season restarted on June 20.
The club were in the Premier League as recently as 2013, winning the FA Cup in the same year. They dropped down into League One in 2015 but made an immediate return to the Championship.
The club recorded a net loss of £9.2million in their most recent annual accounts for the year ending June 30, 2019. That was an increase of £1.5m on the previous year.
Wigan were owned by JJB Sports co-founder Dave Whelan until November 2018, when he and his family sold to the Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation (IEC).
There was a further change of ownership on May 29 of this year, when IEC divested its ownership to Next Leader Fund.
IEC said in a letter to fans its decision came “after thorough assessment of several factors, including the club’s financial position, management team and objectives, particularly the promotion to the Premier League”.
The letter added: “There are areas of misalignment in expectations which we feel may hinder our partnership going forward.
I'm sorry to see that Wigan Athletic football club has gone into administration https://t.co/WNnhQ7iW0v
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) July 1, 2020
“Combining with the outbreak of the Covid-19 has created more uncertainty around the financial position of the EFL and the football business as a whole.”
Damian Collins, the former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, said he was sorry to see the news and added on Twitter: “We need a #gameplan for football to help clubs that have got into financial difficulties, made worse by the Covid-19 lockdown.”
Collins has suggested the Government should underwrite a scheme to help save clubs affected by the pandemic, but Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for DCMS, has said that “football should first look after itself”.