JOE Royle has revealed the Chinese consortium that has taken over Wigan Athletic had previously looked at buying Oldham Athletic.
“They wanted to buy a football club and looked at Latics before Abdallah Lemsagan bought it, but it was complex financially and not quite right for them,” explained Joe, the Boundary Park club’s most successful manager.
The Hong Kong-based business International Entertainment Corporation has just completed a takeover at Lancashire’s other Latics, Wigan Athletic.
Joe, who had a spell living in Royton when Latics’ manager, has become a director while his son Darren has been appointed executive chairman.
It was while Darren, 44, was at university he met and became friends with one member of the Chinese consortium.
Joe revealed Darren had also worked with IEC on a number of commercial projects other than the purchase of Wigan Athletic.
The 69-year-old, who also managed Everton, Manchester City and Ipswich Town, said: “Wigan came on to the scene with Dave Whelan ready to retire.
“They had a relatively new stadium, which includes a restaurant, and a training ground and everything stacked up for them.”
Joe added a price for the sale of Wigan was agreed 12 months ago when they were languishing in League One but it took time to complete as he says Wigan are the first club in the UK to be bought by a PLC so it had to be approved by shareholders so had to proceed through their business procedures.
Now it has been completed, Joe is excited by his new role at Wigan, who have since been promoted to the Championship. He says his role will be assisting manager Paul Cook on football-related matters.
Joe is impressed by the job Cook is doing, saying: “Paul has a good record of three promotions in five years with three clubs.
“You also have to bear in mind we are playing against sides with four, five and six times our wage bill.”
Joe also praised the new owners describing them as “honourable and honest people”.
He said: “They realise it is not an overnight project. They want to build slowly before moving forward.
“It is everyone’s dream to be in the Premier League and the fact we did it at Oldham and the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and Brighton have achieved it proves it is not an unrealistic dream.”
Wigan have dined at the top table as they were in the Premier League from 2005/13 and in 2013 also won the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history as they beat Manchester City in the final.
Darren, who describes himself as a football business executive, played football at non-league level for Altrincham, Ashton United and Radcliffe Borough, having previously been on the books of both Oldham Athletic and Rochdale.
Football business has always been Darren’s passion and he has worked with some of Europe’s top football brands in a commercial capacity. In the UK, he has specifically developed an entire tier of academy football in the English football pyramid.
Darren is also co-founder of a new MBA qualification with Manchester Metropolitan University around a sporting director course. Prior to the football business, Darren worked in senior management in the pharmaceutical industry where he completed an MBA in marketing and finance while holding an MSc in exercise and nutrition science and BSc in sports science and psychology.
In 2014 he was the driving force behind the launch of the Northern Premier League Football Academy, the first in English football to launch an FA-sanctioned youth league, combining football with further education.