Wigan Athletic’s campaign ended in disappointing fashion after they were relegated from the Championship, bottom of the table - and 2023/24 is set to start in equally bad fashion.
The Latics were handed a four-point deduction for next season by the EFL after failing to pay players’ wages on time, with that reduction set to impact on their immediate start to life in League One.
However, they were also given a second suspended four-point penalty which would come into effect if either the club owner failed to deposit a required amount to more than cover payments into a designated account by 24 May or if Wigan failed to pay wages again between now and the end of next term - and that second penalty has now been activated, meaning they’ll start 23/24 on minus eight points.
The EFL confirmed on Friday that they had requested Wigan owner Abdulrahman Al-Jasmi deposit funds equating to 125% of their “forecast monthly wage bill” into the club account. A statement from the organisation added they had “spent the past 48 hours in dialogue with the Club in an attempt to find a positive outcome” before confirming the additional points penalty had been executed.
This follows Wigan being late with two instances of paying players, on Friday 24 March instead of Friday 10 March and on Tuesday 16 May instead of Friday 5 May. They had also been charged with misconduct following three late instances of payments in 2022.
A statement from the club confirmed they intended to consider an appeal. “The football club has been very transparent with the EFL, who have had clear visibility of the eight-figure sum to finance the remainder of this season and the whole of next season,” it said. “The club will now consider all options open.”
Wigan also revealed their intent to restructure the club financially, appearing to suggest that promotion to the Championship ahead of schedule caused cash flow problems as a result of the need to “strengthen again in the summer and in the January Transfer Window” which left “the wage budget...unfortunately becoming more and more unmanageable”.
A series of meetings have agreed a wage budget for next season which will be 65% lower than this year, while the club anticipate beginning life back in the third tier with a new CEO and sporting director in place as well as greater emphasis on youth development. While that should lead to a more sustainable future, given they’ll start the year eight points adrift already, fans will no doubt be fearing that could lead to a second successive season with Wigan fighting against relegation.
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