IEC to buy Wigan football club

Hong Kong-listed gaming and entertainment firm, International Entertainment Corp., said it has finalized an accord to buy the U.K.’s Wigan Athletic Football Club, for GBP22.4 million ($29.9 million), including outstanding loans.

The group is buying out the controlling Whelan family in cash and the deal is subject to the approval of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Football League, among others.

In the year ending March 201, the club had revenue of GBP27.3 million, up from GBP18 million the prior year.

The Hong Kong group said the acquisition was to help diversify its revenue sources. Wigan will move up into the EFL Champions League in the next season and its revenue and profitability are expected to “significantly” improve, due to sponsorship and media rights, IEC said.

“On the football business side, the company will implement a business plan around increasing match day and non-match day revenues through development of sponsorship, hospitality, retail, ticketing and fan engagement strategies to increase overall turnover,” it said.

“After conducting a detailed review of current operations, the company will look to strengthen the human resources function and facilities infrastructure around the above revenue areas through targeted investment in people and facilities.”

IEC is principally engaged in hotel operations, and leasing of properties for casino and ancillary leisure and entertainment operations. Earlier this week, it reached an accord with The Stars Group to operate land-based live events and poker rooms under the branding of PokerStars in certain Asian countries.