Archives for May 2016

Fans’ Parliament – Ben’s minutes

So the fans’ parliament minutes are out in the public domain, meaning I can share my notes from the evening as well.

Wolves fans at Leyton Orient

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).

Summing up

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.

My take on the Fans’ Parliament

Having attended my first fans’ parliament meeting in September 2014 and my latest one last night, I feel I’m in a credible enough position to offer my thoughts on the platform and whether commonplace criticism of it is merited.

Ben at fans parliament

Last night represented my fourth meeting in total and while my overall minutes will appear in due course (once the official minutes are published) I can at least blog about my feelings about the parliament generally without risk of contravening official rules.

One point that has been repeatedly made by chief executive Jez Moxey – and head of marketing Matt Grayson – is that we should be thankful of the parliament itself, which offers way more accountability, openness and transparency than most, if not all other clubs. Indeed, our CEO regularly trumpets the forums as setting an industry standard, with WBA and Stoke City following Wolves’ lead – the only difference being that our CEO attends every meeting, whereas their topics of conversation are way more sanitised with less influential people.

Indeed, documents were placed on tables around the room last night, detailing the many achievements attributed to the parliament since being formed in 2006. These include the Flex-Ticket, the removal of admin fees on online match tickets, the introduction of an under-21 season ticket and work to introduce safe standing / rail seating through dialogue with the chairman of the Football Supporters Federation (an ongoing project). There were many more bullet points besides, which I will share in due course.

Last night, discussion touched upon the credibility of the parliament, with some fans bemoaning the cutting jibes made about it – and them for being associated with it – outside the room, when they really don’t appreciate what goes on from the inside. Or words to that effect.

I have heard similar. And I get the point.

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the Fans’ Parliament is a worthwhile set-up and I attach a high value to it. I wouldn’t have rushed back from the hard shoulder of the M40 in Warwickshire at 5.30pm last night following a hastily repaired flat tyre if I felt otherwise.

If people think it is a toothless entity then yes, I would understand, but I wouldn’t level that at Jez Moxey or Wolves as a whole, who can only create the entity and then field questions thereafter. (Bemoaning his carefully thought-out responses is another matter entirely).

Where the Fans’ Parliament falls so depressingly short is the complete lack of inclination from so many members to ask any meaningful questions at any given time.

With the buffet in place, the orange juice flowing and Messrs Grayson and Moxey in situ for the evening, far, far too many fans digest their wholemeal sandwiches and Indian nibbles, washed down with a cup of tea before looking on in silence.

I’d say 75 per cent of pertinent questions are asked by a minority of five or six members, while vast swathes of the room decline to engage in the act of rational discourse. Worse still, they don’t make any notes whatsoever at any point, making their presence at the parliament literally pointless.

The club can only take the horse to water. That some order beer from the bar instead as the meeting commences is not their fault.

After of one of the most underwhelming, soul-destroying seasons in living memory and you’d think questions would want to be asked?!

My questions to Jez Moxey, for what it is worth, were (and I am paraphrasing in one or two of these as I asked one or two off the cuff):

  • 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?
  • Is a clause in Kevin McDonald’s contract prohibiting Kenny Jackett from playing him?
  • How much of this ‘one eye on tomorrow’ philosophy do you believe to be the right thing in your heart, or how much is it the owner telling you we have no money and have no other choice but to sign players like Ojo and Wallace? For example, we spent big in signing Newton, Miller, Blake, Kennedy in 2002 but don’t think that spending is important today?
  • You must have gone to Steve Morgan and said ‘give us 50 million’ and we can get promoted, which is pocket money to him. The fact he won’t results in us bringing in players like Sheyi Ojo and Wallace, who everyone in this room knew weren’t adequate replacements for Sako.
  • What key performance indicators / objectives is Kenny Jackett working towards next season?
  • A whole ruck of questions were asked about the Money Shop sponsorship, which I didn’t add to.

I will elaborate with answers as and when the official minutes are out, but for the time being, I wanted to clarify my thoughts on the fans’ parliament. With a number of members coming to an end of their four year tenures, I would only urge fans with dissenting voices to channel their frustrations in a positive way, apply to to become a member and get it all off your chest.

That’s what it’s there for and long may it continue.

Every Wolves player from the 2015/16 season, ranked from best to worst

Based on appearances, overall contribution, delivery against expectation and personal opinion…

every wolves player ranked

1. Matt Doherty

Correctly swept the board for the end of season gongs, albeit in a poor season. Only made 32 league appearances, which says much about the inconsistency of the team selection. Sensational over the second half of the campaign and a constant driving force.

2. James Henry

38 appearances, 7 goals and 6 assists. A useful season from a useful player. Good enough to be a leading light in a promotion chasing team? I’m not sure. But for the moment, essential to our efforts.

3. Dominic Iorfa

41 appearances and all starts. More game time than anyone by a mile in what was his first full season. The only question is: In the middle or out wide? I just hope Wolves can keep him for a few years longer.

4. Kevin McDonald

Despite being cast into the wilderness for the final third of the season, he still started more games (30) than most of his midfield colleagues. Hence why his sudden omission was baffling. Our most talented individual. Must keep if we’re serious about doing anything next season.

5. Jack Price

Similar to most years. Always starts out of the team, but then reemerges when things wobble and you’re left wondering why he wasn’t playing all along. Must realise full potential now, but suspect next year will be as competitive as ever, particularly if the likes of McDonald and Evans hang around.

6. Jordan Graham

Only 11 starts but laid on a goal in nearly all of them and was the catalyst in a vital 4 game winning run over Christmas. Criminal that it took Kenny so long to throw him in. Need him back as soon as possible.

7. Dave Edwards

Steady Eddy. 27 appearances, 5 goals and does what he always does. Much like Henry, a good pro and a useful player, but we need better technicians around him to improve the team.

8. Connor Coady

Featured 35 times but very mixed. Seems to be at his best when he’s got license to get up and down and definitely a victim of Kenny’s constant tinkering to find a decent midfield balance. Could still be a very important player for Wolves I suspect, but must discover consistency.

9. Carl Ikeme

Disrupted for the first half of the season by Martinez breathing down his neck, but back to his best by the end. First name on the sheet next season in every sense. Will be interesting to see who he’s competing with though.

10. Danny Batth

36 appearances, a couple of goals and generally reliable. You get what it says on the tin with Danny Batth. Benefits from having pace around him. Will face strong competition next season if Williamson is fit.

11. Kortney Hause

Missed a chunk through injury but 22 appearances and still showing potential. Prone to mistakes from overplaying and ironing those from his game whilst still playing out is key and will determine how far he goes.

12. Benik Afobe

Like it or lump it, he was our top scorer. 24 appearances and 9 goals wasn’t spectacular but practically Ronaldo-esque compared to Le Fondre and Siggy. Irreplaceable…on our budget.

13. George Saville

Still not everyone’s cup of tea but 18 appearances and 5 goals. Some important ones too against Derby and MK Dons to get us the wins we needed. The manager likes him so will be around next season.

14. Sheyi Ojo

I didn’t rate him, but what do I know? Did score a couple of goals in wins against Fulham and Blues, but went missing for long periods and never left his mark on games. Will be surprised if he makes the grade at Liverpool next season.

15. Jeremy Helan

Not too shabby at all. 8 starts in his loan spell and gave us much needed pace and physicality out wide. Knows his limitations and plays to them. I’d take him as a squad player.

16. Scott Golbourne

Why the hell did we sell him? Occasionally cost us goals through being vertically challenged, but a good technician and played out from the back. Says a lot about the team’s deterioration in style. 20 appearances before he was booted out.

17. Ethan Ebanks-Landell

20 appearances too for EEL before injury curtailed his season. Not my favourite player. Makes mistakes and often looks vulnerable. Doesn’t have the pace or skill of Hause to make up for it either. Will be surprised if he’s playing come August.

18. Joe Mason

15 appearances made up of 8 starts and 7 from the bench. 3 goals, which were all well taken efforts. I’m not convinced there’s enough there to make him promotion-chasing material, with or without a strike partner, but hope to be proven wrong.

19. Emi Martinez

13 starts, a couple of penalty saves, a couple of costly errors and ultimately played second fiddle. Was given every chance to wrestle the shirt away from Ikeme and couldn’t do it. Typical Arsenal goalkeeper in many ways.

20. Nathan Byrne

Made twice as many substitute appearances as starts, which says everything. Much like Mason, you’re left wondering if Kenny wanted him in the first place? Looked alright, but never much more.

21. Michal Zyro

7 appearances and 3 goals, which makes him prolific by our standards. Looked red hot against Fulham, but then most strikers do. Not as good after that and ridiculously bad luck with the horror tackle that’s sidelined him for at least a year.

22. Rajiv Van La Parra

One week he’s out on loan, the next he’s in the team. Both weeks he got paid. But then he got loaned out again and sold. Has talent but will never fully realise it. Frustrating.

23. Adam Le Fondre

Featured 23 times but 3 goals is poor by his standards. OK, he never got a long run and never played consistently with a partner, but still should have done better. Much better.

24. Bjorn Sigurdarson

Back from the dead, 13 appearances, zero goals and swiftly returned to the grave. Contributed though in some important wins and can’t fault the effort. Goodnight and good luck Siggy.

25. Jed Wallace

Only 9 appearances and struggled initially to adapt to Championship football. Benefited from the loan at Millwall and showed glimpses in the final knockings. Judge him next season.

26. Mike Williamson

4 starts in a productive loan spell, but then crocked after signing permanently. Harking back to the Sir Jack era those sort of shenanigans Michael. Hope we get a full season out of him next time.

27. Nouha Dicko

Didn’t score in his 5 league appearances and didn’t really look himself before injury destroyed his season and wrote off any chance we ever had of doing anything. Need him to be immediately brilliant next season, which is asking a lot.

28. Richard Stearman

Only played 4 times before being moved on and we didn’t look solid in any of those matches. Sad to see him go, but might eventually prove a good decision. Cost us in the immediate aftermath though.

29. Bright Enobakhare

The lowly ranking of our youth team prospects is a reflection of their lack of game time but Bright got the most and looks to have all the necessary attributes. Would like to see him through the middle rather than out wide.

30. Sylvan Deslandes

Much like Bright, has talent but looks raw and will need to be managed carefully. Doesn’t have that immediate physical presence of Hause or Iorfa so will need to beef up or find a smart way to play.

31. Conor Hunte

Should have been given more opportunities in the dead rubbers, but showed flashes in his cameo against Bristol City. Might find it tough next season if reinforcements arrive and Graham returns from injury.

32. Tommy Rowe

3 appearances and I can’t remember who they were against, which says much about his Wolves career. Sandwiched that with two good loan spells in League One though, so will get another club and can rebuild. Unfortunate with injury but never got going in two disappointing seasons.

33. Grant Holt

I thought this was a good signing at the time, but he didn’t start a single game and did little from the bench. Ended the season at Rochdale and they haven’t renewed his contract. Should have signed him 5 years ago.

If you think my rankings are poppycock, then please do feel free to adjust as you see fit in the comments below. Here’s a list you can copy and paste:

Van La Parra
Le Fondre

Bloggers’ Ball 2016

It”s that time of year again.

Season done. Hopes and dreams locked away once more until next time.

After all the dust has settled and we are sitting on the beach with our hankies on our heads, Money Shop monogrammed budgie smugglers barely covering our naughty bits and our skin turning the colour of Steve Morgan’s face after we’ve just been stuffed 5-1 at home by the saddos from sandwell, what have we got to show for a season that started with such high hopes and ended as flat as a witches tit?

Sod all really.

Injuries, departures, crass decisions in high places and insipid performances on the pitch have left us all feeling completely underwhelmed.

Is there any happy memory that we can look back on and treasure over the close season?

Oh! Yes!

The Third Annual Bloggers’ Ball!

It was blessed, as the two previous have been, with a perfect Spring day. The Park View was bathed in sunshine as the Bloggers arrived for a pre-match quickie.

It was so good to meet up with the regulars again. It’s odd to think that some of us have only met a couple of times but I count you all as good mates.

There were some new faces too, which was good to see, but let’s have more next year Eh?

As everybody who has attended a BB knows, it’s not a posh get together for an elite few (have you seen Clive’s table manners?). It’s just a few mates having a quiet drink before the match, a slightly less quiet drink after the match and a rather noisy nosh in the evening for those who choose.

..Oh! And I think that there might be some football involved as well. Although, on the evidence of the season just finished, I’m not too sure about that.

I’m going to keep this short so I won’t list all who were there. Suffice to say we enjoyed a few beers, some lively conversation and the company of a few Sheffield Wednesday fans who breezed in and turned out to be almost human.

And they said that they’d let us win just to make our day.

The evening meal was good fun but the silly tie competition was a bit of a damp squib. Clive’s was unrepeatable, Stu Wolf’s was unelectable, TwixFixes was uneatable and mine was unplayable – two thirds passed on to the great Bloggers’ Ball in the sky and one with dodgy knees.

Sunday morning saw the ones who had stayed the night, playing ‘Hunt the Clive’ over breakfast.

We’re still looking, he must have hidden well.

As always, yours truly was there to make sure that some of the proceedings were immortalised on film for future generations to marvel at.

And, as always, yours truly had a bit of trouble doing it. The sound, in places, leaves a lot to be desired (as does the cast). Apologies for that

But it’s here and on general release with a PG rating. (Puerile Gobbledygook). So watch and enjoy.

It only remains for me to thank all bloggers for their contributions over the season, especially Thomas for keeping the thing going under huge pressure of work, Ben Rasmin for his welcome and erudite match reports and Ben for keeping the faith and attending the Wolves Parliament meetings.

And on a very personal note, I am now clear of the cancer that affected my right tonsil and on the road back to what passes for normality in the DOOGooder household. I have received loads of support from family and friends over several months of complete hell and I thank all of you who have telephoned me with good wishes, sent get well cards (and cartoons, you have a very talented husband Border Wolf!) or messages on the blog.

They were all received with grateful thanks and helped me through a very dark night time of the soul.

It’s put a lot of things into perspective for me.

Whatever happens next season, it’s only football and, in the great scheme of things, matters little.

Oh! If only I could believe that!

The Money Shop: An open letter to Jez Moxey

Firstly, bravo Tom Byrne.

The Money Shop shirt

Tom was the man behind the petition (now boasting over 13,000 signatures), asking Jez Moxey to reconsider the club’s position regarding their shirt sponsorship agreement with The Money Shop.

A week ago, he delivered the petition to Jez Moxey at Molineux before sitting down for a meeting with club officials to discuss the situation and proposals to appease both sides.

As stated in his own words, the club listened to what he had to say, repeated their own arguments and sent him on his merry way with no ground surrendered.

In short: they’ve made their decision and they’re sticking with it.

But I admire Tom’s rebellious spirit, agree with everything he has to say and feel strongly this issue shouldn’t simply disappear quietly into the night.

To that end, I hope people will talk with their feet, boycott the shirt (buying the replica shirt doesn’t make you any more or less of a fan by the way) and keep putting pressure on the club to take more decisive action.

What might that action be?

Well, thanks to my old mucka John (Scooped), I was made aware of an open letter penned by Charles Ross, former editor of A Load of Bull, sent to Jez Moxey at the end of April.

In his letter, Charles not only addressed the issues at hand, but offered practical ideas on how the club could proceed and repair the damage caused by this whole episode.

I thought it was rather good, so after obtaining his permission, I wanted to publish it in full and in doing so endorse everything contained within.


From: Charles Ross
To: Jez Moxey, CEO Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
Date: 21 April 2016

Dear Jez,

Re: Wolves and the Money Shop – An Alternative Proposal

First up – please take the below in the spirit in which it is intended. Yes, I am horrified at the Money Shop deal. That said, I only want what is best for the Club. So I have tried to formulate an alternative suggestion which will put the Club in a far better place, short term and long term, than if this deal goes ahead.

The Proposed Tie-Up

1) No, no, no.

2) Not just an emotional reaction from me. I have, inter alia, chatted to other sponsors of Wolves, former colleagues (Director of Communications at a FTSE 100 plc, a Director of one of the country’s top four accounting / consultancy practices). They were, without exception, most surprised and bitterly disappointed that Wolves would even contemplate such a deal. (My professional background: marketing and strategy at Cadbury, then at leading management consultancies etc.)

3) The Club is for sale. Part of what any prospective purchaser will factor in is the Club’s image, reputation, values etc. This deal will be a real negative for a purchaser; it might drive them away entirely. It certainly gives them a huge stick to wield in any negotiation. A petition signed by over 3,000 fans. Acres of negative press coverage. The Council Leaders of both Wolverhampton and Dudley, plus 2 of the City’s 3 MPs, on the record as strongly opposing the deal. Due diligence will throw up a morass of problems and risks. Steve Morgan knows a bit about selling houses: what is the estimated decrease in the expected price for Chateau Molineux?

4) Money Shop per se. Not on the shirt. Not on the most iconic image of Wolves. They are obviously in it to use the good name of Wolves to promote their brand awareness and, more so I would guess, their image.
They will benefit from that association. Wolves will suffer massive, long term reputational damage. Way beyond the 3 years of the deal. How do you quantify reputational damage on a P&L? Let me put it this way. I’ll guess the deal is worth ballpark £1 million. I’ll guess our aggregate turnover in the next 3 years in the Championship would, without parachute payments or promotion, be in a ballpark £50 million. Ergo – Money Shop deal adds a max 2% to turnover. Let’s assume another sponsor could be found to bring in a total of £500k = 1% turnover. Depending whether we could find another sponsor or not – we are talking a difference to turnover of 1% – 2%. Is it really worth it?

5) I discount any and all statements re the Money Shop want to boost the industry’s image via Wolves, their standards are high etc. Sorry guys – that is your problem. Not Wolves’. The Financial Conduct Authority investigation, the £15.4m paid to 147,000 customers in October last year – that is their track record. End of.

6) They charge a “representative” APR 729% on the payday loans side of their business. The fact that it is legal and regulated is irrelevant to Wolves – the reputation of the payday industry is dreadful. Full stop. It is an issue in football c.f. Newcastle and Wonga. Bolton backed out of a deal with QuickQuid under pressure from fans and politicians etc. When it comes to reputation – “perception is reality”. Wolves will be helping sanitise their image.

7) Our shirts will be stained by association. Fairly or not – that is what will happen. Can a Wolves Board seriously, knowingly, endorse that? Endorse by implication an APR of 729% on a payday loan on the most visible aspect the club has by which to promote another organisation’s image?

8) Fan backlash. 3,000 people signing a petition via social media, (coming from someone I have never heard of), inside a week is extraordinary. Replica shirt sales will fall, consequential loss – but that would be the least of my worries. What happens if fans start active protests? Boycotting goods? Walking in late when the TV cameras were there (as happened at Stoke), or walking out early (Liverpool and Villa recently) in silent, peaceful protest? Who knows what else might happen? You know as well as me how the mood at Molineux can turn ugly in the autumn if the team aren’t flying. Given we are up for sale, and with the squad / injuries we have etc – I don’t see us being top six next autumn. The mood amongst many will be ugly from Day One in August if Money Shop is on players’ and replica shirts. The media will be waiting and watching. What a poisonous cocktail.

9) The Club has made enormous strides since the summer of 2013 to reconnect with the fans. A fantastic effort. But in one single deal – all that can be blown away. How do you put a price on that?

10) The Club has done great work in the community for many years. Largely unsung. But we have a well-deserved and good reputation. It has taken years to build; it can be destroyed at a single stroke. A payday loan company name on the shirt? That could do it. Worth risking?

11) Payday loans at 729% are typically made to the poor, the vulnerable etc – many of the very people Wolves try to help. To think that their 729% APR repayments to the Money Shop will in part have funded the cost to them of putting the Money Shop name on the Wolves shirt… I can’t think of much worse things to do. And the media will use those angles, mercilessly; and it would be fair comment.

12) Please do not be seduced by the argument that some people are better off with a payday loan than going elsewhere. Wolves will be actively promoting the use of payday loans – switching from other forms of provision eg Credit Union, Wolves Mastercard (which charges standard rates, praise be!), bank loans etc. And promoting increasing use of loans. Not just brand switching, but increased consumption (c.f. the laughably weak defence of the tobacco industry that is was only about brand switching, not awareness boosting and increasing consumption.)

I could go on. And on. 12 reasons, 11 plus 1 on the bench like the good old days! Suffice to say – there is no sensible business case for this. The risks are so great, the damage with fans and community so large.

Please. Stop it. Stop it now.

A Proposed Alternative

This is a sketch. An idea. But I have run it past some neutral, expert third parties.

1) Cancel the contact

* they can be cancelled. Yes, they can. For the Club to contend “the ink is dry” does not wash. Mistakes were made with players’ contracts; the “bomb squad” were, one way or another, eased out. Rightly so.

2) You have a well-deserved and hard earned reputation as a skilled negotiator. Great! I am not intending to patronise you by telling you how to suck eggs. Just here are some top of my head thoughts / angles. If one helps in the process – fine!

* would the Money Shop really take the Club to court? And put their previous track record into the most public of domains? £15.4m and 147,000 customers? The stack of consumer, politician, community etc opposition to them repeated – and extensively reported on? They would be better advised to hunker down and avoid coruscating reputation damage.

* the pill can be sweetened if needs be. It was with the bomb squad. They can get to keep their existing Sir Jack Hayward Stand deal. The Club can agree and co-ordinate press releases – the Money Shop, aware of the fan backlash, nobly have offered to withdraw at no penalty to Wolves; Wolves most grateful to them for generosity and dignity shown. They and Wolves both delighted to keep existing arrangements in place. Blah blah. If necessary – offer a sum for them to drop it and withdraw. If they want to play poker on this with your good self, I wish them luck: they will need it.

3) Wolves announce that they will offer the name on the shirt to xxxxx free of charge for season 2016/17. After that, they will seek another commercial sponsor as per Silverbug, Chaucer, Goodyear etc for the following two seasons. That recoups a decent portion of the ballpark £1 million “lost” by cancelling the Money Shop Deal.

4) The xxxxx – who. Now here is the biggest of open goals to turn everything around……………………. Remember Barca having UNICEF on the front of their shirts for ages, free? Wolves proudly announce they are doing something similar for 2016/17. Pick your good cause of choice. Aston Villa did it for 2 years, I think, with Acorns Hospice. How about Compton Hospice? (An added bonus for Club and owner, given the Training Ground and Redrow Homes built in Compton.) “Wolves – mes que un club” to steal the Barca tag line.

Hell, you could have a main name on the front, a second one on shorts. Etc etc.

Now – there is a Press Conference you could enjoy giving. “Look. We have listened to our fans. We always do. We got this wrong. Hands up – we got it wrong. So this is what we have done instead.”

Ensuing media coverage, local and national, would be fabulous. Ditto fan reaction. Reputation not just restored – easy to argue it’s been enhanced.

5) And by the way folks. We want to add this. The name of Compton Hospice (or whoever) will be on our shirts this season. Free. But that is not enough. We want to help them with desperately needed cash. So – for every replica shirt bought this season, we will donate £10 to Compton Hospice. So any fan buying one can wear it with real pride, knowing that they have in effect just donated £10 to Compton Hospice.

Imagine the press and public reaction. Current shirt price is £42. I can pretty safely estimate that total revenue of sales of Compton Hospice shirts at £42 to the fan, with £32 income to club, would far, far exceed total revenue of Money Shop shirts at £42 income to club per shirt.

And the Press Department would have a field day, providing regular updates “delighted to announce, 1,000 shirts flown off shelves. Here is photo of player Bloggs handing over a Wolves’ cheque for £10,000 to Compton Hospice”.
This part of it would certainly be of net financial benefit, and offset in part lost Money Shop monies. And it would be of immense reputational benefit.

6) A possible joker to help seal the deal with the Money Shop. Invite them to say that not only are they gracefully withdrawing – they will donate to the named good cause (Compton Hospice, UNICEF, whoever) the equivalent of what they would have paid for the one year of sponsorship 2016/17 i.e. a third of the total. Yes that costs them financially. But if they can afford £15.4m pay-out in compensation – a third of my hypothetical £1 million to donate to charity would give them immense positive PR and reputation enhancement.

7) And just to prove yet further what an ethically minded, CSR driven Club Wolves is – pick up on the idea sent to you by the local Councillors of some free advertising space, e.g. in programme, for local Credit Unions. Opportunity cost virtually nil. But what a great postscript to the story you can sell.

Details above of Proposed Alternative are clearly draft idea generation. But the underlying principle of donating name on shirt for a year 2016/17 is, I am sure, a pretty good “so what do we do next” in the exit strategy from the Money Shop deal.


I sincerely hope that you can see the above is written with good intentions, driven by what I perceive in my heart as being in the best interests of the Club. At the very least – thank you for taking the time to read through it.

Ultimately, it is for you and the Board to decide on the merits of the above. If you decide to proceed with exiting the Money Shop deal and finding a positive alternative – I do not doubt your ability to make it happen.

Of course, a decision of this magnitude and profile would need to gain shareholder approval, in practice if not under company law. Steve Morgan is the sole shareholder. I am firmly of the belief that this is the best way of maximising shareholder returns, both in the short term and in the long term. Even more so with the business being for sale. He is, of course, more than the owner. He is, like Sir Jack was, the custodian. This is a legacy issue for him; that has a value beyond pounds, shillings and pence.

Out of courtesy to you, it seemed only right and proper for me to give you the opportunity to digest the above before anyone else has sight of it.

Best wishes

Charles Ross

Wolves 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

The old saying goes ‘you can only beat what’s put in front of you’.

Wolves celebrate

And never has that been more appropriate than this sunny, end of season romp as Sheffield Wednesday fielded a second string to protect their best and brightest.

Whether that pays dividends in the play-offs is anyone’s guess, but yesterday Wolves were only too happy to profit.

The Owls had the stink of a side that had rarely played together, disconnected in possession and consistently wide open at the back.

Michael Turner was even kind enough to end the Molineux drought as he scuffed home the opener after another penetrating run and cross from Matt Doherty.

It was our roaming full back causing mischief again half an hour later as he danced along the touchline and pulled the ball back exquisitely for George Saville to double the lead, as the home crowd rubbed their eyes in disbelief.

At full time the Player of the Season shortlist was announced, compromising Doherty, Jack Price and James Henry. Having previously backed Henry I’d now be more inclined to see the former take home the gong.

After getting back into the side at Christmas, he’s been our best performer and now looks even better at left-back than in his more natural position on the opposite flank.

He was unfortunate to concede what looked a soft penalty late on, but can be pleased with another solid outing to sign-off for the summer.

Dominic Iorfa was almost as impressive and he will be central to Kenny Jackett’s plans next season. Please, please, do not sell Wolves.

Up the pitch, Jed Wallace and Joe Mason showed signs of promise with high energy first half performances.

Sadly, the former went off ill at the break and the latter was lumbered with the misfiring Adam Le Fondre for the second forty five and struggled to make the partnership work.

But there’s some promise there for players who haven’t yet had the consistent run they need to make a meaningful impact.

Generally speaking though, I don’t think there were any bad footballers on show for Wolves. The problem is that many of them just aren’t good enough or consistent enough to challenge for promotion.

Three or four of yesterday’s team are squad players who could offer support but shouldn’t be relied upon as the headline act.

We need match winners and unfortunately they’re hard to acquire and very easy to lose, as we know from recent bitter experience.

Two can be recruited from the treatment table and another from the wilderness, but others must be conjured from somewhere if anything is to improve next term.

That’s probably wishful thinking under the current ownership and with the emergency loan window now a thing of the past.

But dream and wish we must, as it’s the only thing that makes the prospect of August even remotely palatable.

Enjoy the break.