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Walker Morris advises Begbies Traynor on the sale of Wigan Athletic FC

Walker Morris’ Sports and Insolvency Teams have advised Paul Stanley, Dean Watson and Gerald Krasner of Begbies Traynor on the sale of Wigan Athletic FC and its assets to Phoenix 2021 Limited.

Walker Morris were instructed by Begbies Traynor who were appointed as administrators of the Wigan AFC group of companies in July 2020. Over the past nine months, Walker Morris has assisted the joint administrators with their appeal against the 12 point deduction, advised the joint administrators on day to day legal matters and advised on numerous proposed sales of the business and assets of the Wigan AFC group. Following the last-minute collapse of a sale to Spanish investors in December 2020, a deal was finally agreed with Phoenix 2021 Limited (a company ultimately controlled by Bahrain businessman Abdulrahman Al-Jasmi) at the beginning of March. The deal has now completed after formal approval was obtained from both the English Football League and the Football Association.

The deal ensures that all football creditors will be paid in full and that all non-football creditors will receive a dividend of at least 25p in the pound, which should result in the club avoiding any further points deduction and improve the prospects of the club remaining in League One for the 2021/22 season.

Walker Morris fielded a multi-disciplinary team led by David Hinchliffe (Head of Sports), with support from Owen Ormond (Insolvency), Andrew Maclean (Real Estate), Charlotte Smith and Adam Melling (Employment) and Christian Slinger (Sport).

Dean Watson, one of the joint administrators from Begbies Traynor, commented:

“We have gone through a number of sales processes with several interested parties during our time in office, so we are we are happy to finally get a deal over the line with the hard work of the purchaser, the existing management team, and all professionals. We believe this deal achieves the best outcome for the Club, its creditors, and its fans who have shown patience and resilience throughout. We wish the new owners the best of luck both on and off the pitch as they take the club forward.

“We would like to thank the team at Walker Morris in particular for their hard work over the past nine months or so. Their dedication and vast experience in this sector helped to keep the club running and enabled us to get a deal done despite a number of complications and nuances. We look forward to working with them again soon.”

David Hinchliffe, Head of Sports at Walker Morris added:

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work closely with the team at Begbies Traynor in achieving their objectives and securing a buyer for Wigan Athletic FC.

“The outcome is an excellent result for all parties involved and helps to safeguard the future of this historic football club. This transaction is yet another example of the expertise we have in this sector and enhances our reputation as one of the leading sports law teams in the country.”

Recognised nationally by independent guides to the legal profession, the Walker Morris Sports Team has a long history of successfully supporting acquisitions and sales of football clubs (insolvent or otherwise). Over the past few years the Sports Team has advised on numerous sales and purchases of Clubs including advising Burnley FC, AFC Bournemouth, Leeds United, Reading FC, Nottingham Forest FC and Wrexham AFC.

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