Wigan Athletic FC went into administration earlier this week after failing to receive an anticipated £6 million payment, citing the coronavirus pandemic as a significant factor.
On Wednesday, the EFL released a formal statement outlining the terms of the sanction that the Championship side will face following their administration. A 12-point penalty will be imposed this season should they finish above the bottom three. If they place within the relegation zone, the EFL will postpone the 12-point deduction to the 2020-21 season instead. As it stands, Wigan are currently 16th out of 24 in the Championship table.
The news raises fears about the possible financial effects of coronavirus on other UK football clubs.
Wigan’s MP, Labour’s Lisa Nandy, has called for a full inquiry into the administration, calling the club the victim of a “major global scandal”. It has been just four weeks since the club changed ownership and Nandy has raised concerns about a controversial video released showing EFL chairman Rick Parry discussing a rumour that the club’s administration was triggered by “a bet in the Philippines on them being relegated”. Full causes of the club’s administration are currently under investigation.
The club’s administration calls into question the future of other teams, particularly lower league teams considered more susceptible to the potentially damaging financial consequences of the pandemic. Cardiff City manager Neil Harris voiced fears to the BBC, predicting that we will see more League One and Two clubs suffer in the coming months since “football is not exempt” from such financial implications.
Matches are currently being played behind closed doors with no fans present, leading to a considerable loss of club income from ticket sales. This is proving particularly damaging to non-Premier League sides who do not have substantial television deals to fall back on.
The search for a buyer for Wigan Athletic is ongoing but it remains unclear whether the side will be able to complete their Championship games this season.
In other football news, Oxford United drew 1-1 with Portsmouth at Fratton Park in Friday’s Sky Bet League One semi-final first leg. After testing negative for coronavirus, the team will tomorrow host Portsmouth for the Sky Bet League One semi-final second leg at the Kassam Stadium.