Wigan will be only the start?

Wednesday, 8 July 2020, 7:30
2 mins read

It was sad news when I read the other day about Wigan slipping into administration, the first team to be victims of the pandemic that has hit so many people and companies around the world.

We should not forget that at the end of the 2012/13 season – the same year that we won the League Cup, Wigan won the FA Cup and just three days later were relegated from the top flight after a stay of 8 seasons.

Seven years on and they are facing a third relegation to League One (they have been promoted twice as Champions) thanks to a likely 12 point deduction as a result of relegation with the League confirming that they will face that penalty this season if they finish the season outside of the relegation places.  Wigan will appeal but it’s been a mad month for the former cup winners who only saw their ownership change hands at the start of June.

A statement from businessman Au Yeung Wai Kay, who heads Wigan’s owners Next Leader Fund said “Wigan Athletic is a wonderful football club with rich history and a passionate fanbase,

“We bought Wigan Athletic with the best intentions: to create a team that would get the club back into the Premier League.

“Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis has severely impacted people and businesses around the world – and Championship football clubs, which rely on fans coming through the turnstiles, are no exception.”

The last paragraph is one that should strike fear amongst many clubs.  No fans through the turnstiles means no income and no income means no money to pay wages meaning it very likely that Wigan will be the first of a string of clubs to maybe head down this road.

For us the timing is poor.  We have a Champsionship squad that is still feeling the impact of Premier League wages and know that we were facing a financial challenge this summer long before the pandemic took hold.  With a vastly reduced income we are now facing an uncertain future that has no guarantees that we will not be the next Wigan.

The retained list tells you that we are doing all we can to stave off that fact and there seems to be little doubt that there is further cost cutting to come with nothing likely to be off the table in terms of costs to be cut which will be essential if the club is going to survive.

We know that we are already heading into next season more reliant on the youth within the squad then we ever have been and our only moves into the transfer market are surely likely to be loan players.  If they can be of the calibre of Rhian Brewster then there is hope on the pitch but how many times have our loan signings flattered to deceive?

In Leagues One and Two the picture has to be more bleak.  Their decisions to end their season early would have been as much to reduce costs as anything to do with safety and that is a clear picture of the crisis that football still finds itself in the middle of.

In a season that already saw Bury wiped off the league tables and Bolton coming closer than anyone would have wanted to see, the latest crisis club in the North West should strike a fear in the heart of football fans everywhere.

FA Cup winners in 2013 to administration in 2020.  Football is a hard game.

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.

Phil Sumbler

Been watching the Swans since the very late 1970s and running the Planet Swans website (in all its current and previous guises since the summer of 2001 As it stood JackArmy.net was right at the forefront of some of the activity against Tony Petty back in 2001, breaking many of the stories of the day as fans stood against the actions where the local media failed. Was involved with the Swans Supporters Trust from 2005, for the large part as Chairman before standing down in the summer of 2020.

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