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Soccer-Hong Kong consortium IEC completes Wigan takeover

[BENGALURU] Hong Kong-based consortium International Entertainment Corporation (ICE) completed its takeover of English second-tier side Wigan Athletic on Wednesday, bringing and end to more than two decades of ownership by the Whelan family.

The £22 million (S$39.6 million) deal first announced in May was completed after being ratified by the English Football League (EFL) and IEC shareholders in Hong Kong, Wigan said in a statement.

The Whelan family have been the majority shareholders of Wigan since 1995, overseeing the club's rise to the Premier League and their FA Cup triumph in 2013, the season they were relegated from the top flight.

"We are proud to be the new owners of Wigan Athletic Football Club and we feel excited and privileged to have the opportunity to write the next chapter in the club's history," IEC chief executive Yan Min Zhang said.

IEC has diverse business interests, including hotel operations and the leasing of properties across Asia.

As part of the deal, outgoing Wigan chairman David Sharpe has been replaced by Darren Royle, whose father Joe, a former Everton and Manchester City manager, was also named to Wigan's board.

"It is a huge honour and responsibility to follow in the footsteps of Dave Whelan and David Sharpe," Darren said. "Nothing is more inspiring and motivating than a legacy such as the one left in place by the Whelan family."


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