So the fans’ parliament minutes are out in the public domain, meaning I can share my notes from the evening as well.
In an attempt to cut to the chase, I will begin with my conclusions and subsequent predictions after listening to what was said, before working my way backwards. My shorthand wasn’t in the finest of fettle, as I was asking a few questions and wanted to be looking directly at Jez Moxey when he answered them, rather than my notepad with my head down. So in some instances, the quotes are indirectly taken rather than direct, but this should become clear.
So, my overriding conclusion, purely subjective and of my own personal opinion, is as follows:
1. There is literally no hope for next season from what I can glean, unless we find a new owner.
JM said: “There is nothing to add since the end of season dinner. We are in discussions. We remain optimistic. There is no timeline. Don’t get yourself too excited. We want exactly what you all want and nothing changes. The situation is exactly the same and let me reassure everybody that we read your comments. We are aware of the feelings that people are expressing and our fingers are on the pulse.”
2. Jez Moxey was particularly careful in phrasing plans for summer strengthening…check the semantics.
JM said: “We are trying very hard to strengthen the team, irrespective of whether there is a new owner. We are going to continue to try hard to strengthen the team, regardless of whether there is a new owner or not.”
Call me a cynic, but the ‘trying hard’ bit sounded too pertinent to me. It was not a categorical statement that we will definitely strengthen the team. Stating that you will try hard to do something is completely different to saying that you will! These comments really underwhelmed me, underpinning my overriding conclusion above in point 1.
3. To underline my ‘no hope’ conclusion, check out the quote from JM below when one fan contested that we would only be able to strengthen the team by selling players (being as all the parachute payments have ended)
JM didn’t rule out having to sell players (from what my memory serves, at least), with the following vague response: “We want to get a team who can compete.”
4. Jez Moxey’s money contradiction…
When I asked about what objectives / brief Kenny Jackett is working towards, JM said: “We would like new investment if we can get it. With a? new owner potentially comes with new investment policies. Ideally, we want to be challenging for promotion regardless of ownership. I think being in the top six if at all possible is a minimum requirement. Kenny Jackett is here to help us do that.”
But he earlier asserted that money is not the be-all-and-end-all. He talked about clubs spending big and not getting it right (quoting Manchester United and £250 million) before talking about nurturing players like Wallace, who was a League 2 player of the year, and Jordan Graham, who has been carefully developed. He talked about always having ‘one eye on the future.’
My question that followed was: “How much is ‘one eye on the future’ a genuine philosophy that runs in your heart as being the right way to operate, or how much is it Steve Morgan simply saying ‘I’m tightening the purse-strings and you’ve got no money? So buying Wallace, loaning Ojo is the only choice you have?’
JM appeared to argue a case for the latter by reminding the room of the success we have had when we have spent money. He said we have a history of doing well when we do spend, such as 2008/09. He reminded the room of the day Sir Jack made a fateful decision in a London conference room following promotion in 2003 when the board was told that very little money would be made available. Had it have been, we could have really established ourselves, claimed JM.
So he ultimately agreed that money was important, having earlier argued the case against it being important?! (Indeed, in his last FP appearance his direct quote was finding ‘a knight in shining armour to fund our aspirations’ after reminding us of the strides made by Ipswich Town and Birmingham City).
I’d suggest to Jez, with respect, that extolling the virtues of ‘doing things the right way’ is a tad disingenuous, when there is literally no other option but to operate in this way in the first place, owing to a chairman who has downed tools!
I did follow up by saying to Jez that he must wish he could go to Steve Morgan and ask for £50 million to get us promoted, which would be pocket money to SM. We could then bring in players of the ilk of Andre Gray, which is surely preferable. It was this observation that Jez followed with his examples of Wolves doing well when we spend money.
5. Kenny Jackett is a dead man walking.
Dave Benton, a guy who I respect for asking straight questions, asked: ‘How long are the club prepared to put up with the most dire, boring, clueless football that has ever been served up before they ditch the manager? (And before almost no one bothers to turn up because it is so dreadful?)
JM answered, and I quote: “”Not long. This past season is not what we wanted. It is not acceptable and it must change!”
Ergo, Jackett will have to fashion a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with no solid pledge given on improving the team (other than doing their best to improve it) let alone any assurances on how we would fund any new additions with existing player sales not being ruled out. Let’s not forget the Stearman saga from last season. If I was Kenny, I would be worried.
6. Other questions I asked:
Is a clause in Kevin McDonald’s contract prohibiting Kenny Jackett from playing him?
JM answered: “What do you think?” to which I responded, ‘I don’t know.’ He pushed again: ‘What do you think?’ I said was a claim that could have legs. He then categorically denied that there was a clause in Kevin McDonald’s contract and said it was the manager’s decision on whether he played or not.
Interestingly though, a fan asked a similar question in the parliament earlier on in the evening, and Moxey actually sounded more guarded, and said there was a reason why McDonald wasn’t playing, before appearing to stop himself from elaborating. He seemed to go on the defensive, stating: I don’t know another club who would give a fan chance to ask the chief executive this. I’m not going into full detail but Kenny preferred the other players he chose.”
It came across as being guarded to me, hence me asking the follow-up question on K Mac.
Comparing Wolves in 2016 to when you first joined the club in 2000, season ticket sales are down, quality on the pitch is down, commercial revenue is presumably down, expectation is down and apathy is at an all-time high. How do you assess your performance during this time?
JM replied: “I will allow the people who employ me to assess that as they control whether I am here or not. They know the detailed criteria on which I am judged.”
7. Money Shop sponsorship.
Most of the points are on the official minutes. No amount of signatures are going to change the decision. The CEO of Money Shop Stuart Howard was keen to state how he is turning the business around from a mess of 18 months ago, from where a great deal of negativity stems. He has now changed their lending criteria and he is trying to ensure they do not lend to anyone who cannot afford it again in the future. Also, they are going to work with the credit unions in Wolverhampton. A lot of charity work was outlined too.
And Wolves are committed to giving programme space to other lending unions / independent bodies, which is what MPs asked for in their letters of complaint.
My thoughts for what they’re worth: I just look at the Money Shop sponsorship through the following, simple ground: Was it the right thing to do? In life, you have choices and generally, you know in your heart of hearts what the right thing to do is. Yes, this sounds horribly woolly and opaque I know, but it is what I go off.
In my opinion, this was the wrong thing to do. I don’t want to revisit Charles Ross’s excellent open letter but it is on this blog if you need further elaboration. In the FP, the club were defiant in their view that this was the right thing to do, whilst acknowledging that they do care about what supporters think.
Matt Grayson’s overriding argument was that there is a place in society for regulated loans. ‘Regulated credit should not be demonised,’ he said.
Jez Moxey said, and I quote: “We are not here to solve society. We are not here to do that, that’s not our job. Our job is to win football matches.”
He followed this up by saying that 2 million people need this service, and if it ceased to exist, what would the alternative be?
Would he do things differently if he had this time again? “Absolutely no,” he answered.
And JM offered a gentle reminder about all of the positive community work that the club carries out, which some fans might not remember.
“We, as you know, give a lot of money to charity and have done so for a long time. When we run stories about donations, which run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, people are not really interested, but they are interested in lots of other things.”
He added: “There is a genuine synergy with the Money Shop.” (This quote in relation to the amount of charity work that both businesses carry out).
Bizarrely, after one fan argued that High Street banks like Barclays were way more reprehensible than the Money Shop because they plunged the nation into a recession in the first place, Jez Moxey asked fans in the room who banked with Barclays to raise their hands. I felt this was unnecessary and frankly, beside the point, but that’s just my humble opinion.
There were other points raised but the topics didn’t strike a chord with me, so feel free to refer to the official minutes for these (JM’s role on the Football League, pigeon crap on seats etc etc).
As is always the case after a meeting on the fans’ parliament, I report back honestly, backed up by pages of shorthand. And most quotes written above are direct, taken from 100words per minute shorthand in my pad. Those that are not direct quotes are written indirectly and I think I make this clear.
To sum up, we need a new owner as a matter of urgency. We have no money, we have no confirmation of whether we will definitely improve the squad – let alone how funds will be made available in the first place – and Kenny Jackett is skating on thin ice.
Oh, and Kevin McDonald most definitely doesn’t have a clause in his contract!
If this parliament tells me anything, then it is that we’re quite probably in for one of the longest summers in recent history.
Thanks for reading. All comments welcome.