The long running saga of Latics’ takeover by the International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) looks like it’s coming to an end.
The takeover was initially mooted back in October last year and was expected to be finalised earlier this year.
The deal was subject to Hong Kong Stock Exchange approval and EFL consent but the reasons why it has taken so long are unclear.
The latest rumours are that the deal could be completed in the next few days and that IEC will be providing a significant transfer fund for Paul Cook.
In fact the new owners could well show their intent with a marquee signing before the transfer window closes on August 9th.
Overall it’s been an unsettling summer and the protracted process was starting to have a detrimental impact on team affairs.
The delay in the takeover was preventing Cook from getting in as many players as required for the start of the Championship campaign.
Trialists James Perch and Ross Wallace have moved on after training with the club all summer reportedly because the club couldn’t find the funds.
Assuming the takeover goes ahead there is still a concern about the motives of the IEC group headed by pro gambler Fai Stanley and their ability to deliver the investment the club requires.
The track record of foreign investors into English Football is certainly a chequered one and the risk of failure is still high.
But assuming the takeover does go ahead this week and the transfer funds are made available the club should be in a much stronger position to build on last season’s success.
Latics already have a good spine with Walton, Burn, Morsy and Grigg but they still need to recruit more quality if they are to compete in the top half of the Championship.
They say you can’t read too much into friendlies but there were some worrying signs in the 3-0 defeat to Rangers last Saturday.
Latics looked off the pace with too many players coasting when they should be pushing for a starting place in the team.
Very few players looked capable of beating their opponent at a time when they should be reaching peak fitness.
Latics conceded three goals from headers when key defender Dan Burn limped off at half time at Ibrox and he could well be missing for the opening fixture.
Also Player of the season and right back Nathan Byrne missed the Rangers game due to injury and may be unavailable on Saturday.
One bright note in amongst a dismal display was Chelsea loanee Reece James who looked comfortable at right back and showed great composure in possession.
The squad is currently looking thin with Ryan Colclough and Devante Cole likely to leave this week.
Latics also urgently need a left back with makeshift defender Kal Naismith ineffective at Ibrox.
All together these are not the best preparations for the opening day of the season against Sheffield Wednesday but the club’s prospects could be looking much brighter by next week.
Predicted final league position: 12th.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 3rd August 2018.