London (AFP) – Former Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is leading calls for an investigation into the controversial decision to place the struggling Championship club in administration.
Belgium boss Martinez does not believe the timing of the decision by Wigan’s owners to go into administration was “normal”.
Martinez is a revered figure among Wigan fans after managing them to FA Cup glory in 2013, having spent six years as a player at the club.
Wigan were put in administration on July 1, four weeks after they were sold from one Hong Kong-based company to another, both of which were until recently majority-owned by professional poker player Dr Choi Chiu Fai Stanley.
Wai Kay Au Yeung, a Chinese businessman, has since replaced Choi as the majority shareholder of Next Leader Fund, which purchased Wigan from International Entertainment Corporation (IEC), a Hong Kong-based, Cayman Islands-registered company.
Adding to the bizarre situation, British media reports claim English Football League chairman Rick Parry was secretly filmed telling a fan that Wigan’s administration was connected to “a bet in the Philippines on them being relegated”.
Once their 12-point administration penalty is applied, 16th placed Wigan will drop to the bottom of the Championship table.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has written to the Government and the English Football League asking for an inquiry and Martinez agrees that the situation must be probed.
“There is a need to validate this decision, and there is a need to investigate and provide clarity,” Martinez said.
“Without going into too much detail, if you have been 19 months owning a football club and the investment over that period has been a big investment, all of a sudden the team is almost mid-table in the Championship, I don’t think that the timing of this administration was normal.
“You would think that you would try other avenues to try to maybe get financially in a better state before you take this drastic decision.
“So I do feel there is a very important cause for investigating the administration in this case. The rules are there to be taken on, but it doesn’t look too clear to me how this administration came about.”