Whelan family sells Wigan Athletic to IEC

Roberto Martinez holds the FA Cup trophy with Dave Whelan after Wigan’s 1-0 FA Cup final win against Manchester City in 2013

The Whelan family have sold Wigan Athletic to Hong Kong-based company International Entertainment Corporation for £22m after 23 years as owners.

The Latics were bottom of the fourth tier when Dave Whelan bought them in 1995, but won three promotions in 10 years to reach the Premier League.

The announcement comes after chairman David Sharpe said he would step down once the takeover was completed.

Former Everton boss Joe Royle and his son Darren will now join the board.

Darren will replace Sharpe as chairman, while Joe will become a director.

In a statement, IEC said the purchase of Wigan Athletic is a “good opportunity to further diversify their group”. Their business interests include hotel operations and leasing of properties across Asia.

Wigan spent eight successive seasons in the Premier League between 2005 and 2013 and lifted their first major trophy, the FA Cup, three days before being relegated from the top flight.

Off the pitch, Whelan also funded the construction of the 25,000 all-seater DW Stadium, which opened in 1999 at a cost of about £30m.

Whelan, now 81, stepped down as chairman of the Latics in 2015, leaving his grandson Sharpe in charge.

More recently, Wigan have twice won the League One title in the past three seasons and are currently 16th in the Championship.

A ‘special’ story

Dave Whelan funded Wigan Athletic’s move to the DW Stadium in 1999

Roberto Martinez both played and managed Wigan, most notably leading them to their 2013 FA Cup victory against Manchester City at Wembley.

The Spaniard was in charge between 2009 and 2013 and went on to manage Everton and later Belgium.

“It’s a very special story, what happened at Wigan Athletic, and I don’t think we’ll see it again,” Martinez told BBC Radio Manchester.

“It’s difficult to explain in words and do it justice. Dave Whelan is and was the reason Wigan achieved what they achieved. He had an incredible vision, he was a winner and everything he did was done properly, and that was contagious.

“When you see what happened in his 20-year reign it is quite incredible, it’s why we’re all involved in football.”

Article credit: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/41636508

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