The first interview with International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) chief executive Yan Min Zhang after the Hong Kong-based plc formally completed their takeover of Wigan Athletic.
- WATCH: The first interview with International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) chief executive, Yan Min Zhang
- Yan Min Zhang, IEC’s chief executive, discusses the reasons for the purchase of Wigan Athletic Football Club and the importance of building on the Whelan family’s legacy
- Yan Min Zhang: “What Dave Whelan has done with the football club is a great achievement and we really respect the achievements. We have a good relationship and he is welcome to visit us any time at the club and to respect his achievements we will give him the title of life president of the club.”
Yan Min Zhang, the CEO of International Entertainment Corporation (IEC), has given his first interview after IEC formally completed their takeover of Wigan Athletic Football Club on Wednesday.
In the above interview, Yan Min Zhang placed on record his respect for the club’s previous owner Dave Whelan and stated he wanted the club to extend their success under IEC’s ownership.
“We have been exploring the opportunities [available] within football clubs in England for a year or two,” he explained. “We visited other clubs before we contacted Wigan Athletic, but when we were introduced to Wigan Athletic we fell in love with how Mr Dave Whelan operated the club and promoted it from the bottom to the Premier League.
“After we spoke to the management, especially Mr Dave Whelan, we learned that from a small local football club this club has gone all the way through the Premier League before winning the FA Cup in 2013.
“What Dave Whelan has done with the football club is a great achievement and we really respect the achievements. We have a good relationship and he is welcome to visit us any time at the club and to respect his achievements we will give him the title of life president of the club.”
Yan Min Zhang hopes Wigan Athletic fans will join IEC on the journey and give them the support the Whelan family were given during their 23-year ownership of Wigan Athletic.
“Our objective it to get back to the Premier League – as soon as possible,” Yan Min Zhang added. “To the fans, we are new to Wigan – come and join us and we will enjoy the football together.”
IEC have appointed Darren Royle as Wigan Athletic’s new executive chairman whilst Joe Royle and Thomas Chan will also join existing chief executive Jonathan Jackson on the Board of Directors.
“We believe the root of football is in England and, as a group from Asia, we will depend on the local experience and will not make dramatic change on the operation and management structure of the club,” Yan Min Zhang continued. “The reason we have engaged Joe and Darren is that we would like to cooperate with all of the other management personnel and use their football experience and understanding of English football.
“We have had very good discussions with Darren, Joe and the manager to study the funds needed, not only for this season, but also the budget for next year and the year after – that will help us to prepare the funds and understand what is needed to run the club.
“We would like a progressive approach so we won’t throw in big amounts of money and engage expensive players; we would like to build the team from what we have now and gradually develop a team to take the club to the next level.”