The new Premier League's contender: this is how Wolverhampton works

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Since Jorge Mendes is involved with the club, the results have improved and criticisms have multiplied

The new Premier League's contender: this is how Wolverhampton works

Wolverhampton Wanderers, team from the city of Wolverhampton in the region of the Western Midlands of England, got to the highest category of English football having won the tournament of promotion with relative comfort.

Leer en español: Premier League: Los millones detrás del éxito del Wolverhampton

The key in its soccer success was an intelligent, innovative, and controversial business structure, led by the new owners of the team: the Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun International.

Now, the team added its first victory in the Premier League against West Ham, and knew how to complicate the champion, Manchester City, giving it a draw in the third round of the league.

The Chinese conglomerate, which bought the club for 45 million pounds, brought with it an injection of capital that in its first year allowed the club to take losses of more than 23 million pounds, generated mainly by millionaire purchases of players that brought better performance to the team.

In addition to the financial muscle of Fosun International, a key player in the reconstruction of the Wolves, who remained absent from the English first division since the 2011-12 season, was the Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes.


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Mendes, who runs the agency representing players GestiFute, and has among its clients Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and coach José Mourinho, among many others, mostly Portuguese, plays the role of agent and adviser to the club and its president.

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Among current Mendes clients, and Wolves' active roster, there are 5 players in common, including some of the undisputed stars of the English team. Among them highlight Helder Costa and Rúben Neves, both broke the record of the most expensive transfer of the team with their arrival, the first costing 13 million pounds, and the second around 15.8 million, and both played a key role in the performance of the team to get to first division.

In addition, this season, already facing a season in the first division, Wolverhampton hired two of the most important clients of Mendes, the goalkeeper Rui Patricio and midfielder Joao Moutinho, two key players in the Portuguese team.

'Illegal and unfair'

The success of the Wolves in second division aroused suspicion in the other 23 teams against whom they competed. Owners and technicians from other clubs demonstrated in social networks against what they consider unfair competition from Wolverhampton, arguing that by having Jorge Mendes in a high position, the club receives preferential treatment in the transfer season, particularly with the clients of GestiFute.

The owner of the club Leeds United, Andrea Radrizzani, was one of the people who most commented about the role of Mendes in Wolves and the impact this had on the football.

"Congratulations to the best team, but I hope the league can be fair for all 24 teams," Radrizzani said on Twitter when Wolverhampton was crowned second division champion.

Radrizzani also criticized the other links between Wolves and GestiFute, because in addition to Mendes' position as advisor, the club's owner group, Fosun International, was accused of owning part of the GestiFute agency, which for Radrizzani represents a situation 'illegal and unfair'.

When the case came to the English Football League (EFL), the body that regulates the competition in the second division of English football, brought by Radrizzani together with the owners of other clubs in this category, the EFL ruled that the case of Wolves and Mendes did not violate the rules.



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Although the EFL prohibits the company or person owning a club from also participating as the owner of a player representation agency, the organization argued that it was not Fosun International who participated in GestiFute, but only its owner, Guo Guangchang.

A diverse portfolio for Fosun International

Within the great empire of the Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, the Wolves are just a small part, which deserved their first appearance in the company's annual report by winning the promotion tournament and reaching the Premier League.

According to Express and Star, Fosun International recorded revenues of 5 billion pounds only during the first half of this year, which means that its income amounted to more than 790 million pounds. Compared to these figures, the 45 million pounds paid by the group by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC does not seem like much.

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Actually, Fosun International depends on a diverse portfolio to stay afloat, investing in life insurance, banking, oil, clothing, tourism, drugs, and soccer among other industries.

In 2015, it was announced that Guo Guangchang, president of Fosun International, had disappeared, but shortly after a spokesman for the company announced that he was 'helping the authorities with an investigation' as reported by the BBC. Cases like this are frequent in China under the government of Xi Jinping, who exercises strict control over Chinese conglomerates with investments abroad.


LatinAmerican Post | Pedro Bernal
Translated from “El nuevo contendiente de la Premier League: así funciona el Wolverhampton”