North Korean Ri Yong-chol Agrees Wigan Deal
North Korean international Ri Yong-chol has agreed to join Wigan Athletic until 30 June 2018, although his services are far from secured, as Beijing newspaper The Messenger and radio station Voice of Korea (www.vok.rep.kp) have both reported.
It comes within 48 hours of North Korea`s Supreme People`s Assembly first granting club officials the permission to speak to Yong-chol directly. It is now assumed that the SPA have now reached a final agreement with Wigan`s negotiating team.
The following was printed in Monday`s edition of The Beijing Messenger:
"The Messenger understands that Wigan [Athletic] FC was yesterday met with a cold response from the English Football Association who is the first arbiter of footballers` work visas in the United Kingdom.
"The newspaper asked both the DPR Football Association and Wigan FC`s negotiating team for a likelihood of Yong-chol completing his move to England.
"DPR said it would be unwise of them to comment while a spokesperson for Wigan stated 'the odds are stacked against us at the moment, but we are confident we have legitimate grounds for a work permit to be granted.`" Thanks to Shaobo of China Daily for his translation.
The 26-year-old defender has been in contact with Latics since the weekend. A non-senior source working inside the DW Stadium on a daily basis has said: "They [the negotiating team] know it will take time to get him into the country so they`ve been spending most of their time over the past few days on this deal.
"At the end of the day, the deal has a reasonable chance of going ahead from the things that have been said. They wouldn`t be spending so much time on it otherwise - even if we are on a break."
We also asked the member of staff: what impact has North Korea`s political situation had on the negotiations? "I`ve not heard the country`s political situation mentioned once."
Manager Paul Cook hopes to have Ri at the club`s training centre within the next 10 days according to our friends at the PWU Podcast. Wigan have applied through the regular Tier 2 work visa route, which in theory can take upto three weeks.
Last season Max Power filled in at right back on occasion and against Blackpool in the League Cup last month Alex Gilbey was trialled at full back for the final quarter of the match, however the latter left the club surprisingly on Deadline Day.
Unlike previously, Titan Sports have are yet to cover the latest part of this story.