When the Fosun International group bought Wolverhampton Wanderers for £45m in 2016, they promised to pump £30m into the Championship club, and at the time it may have been hard for the then 14th place second-tier side to comprehend the changes that were about to occur. Significant investment was pumped into the Midlands club as the owners stayed true to their promise by spending £32.49m. Though it was an enormous gamble due to the disparity in revenue Championship and Premier League teams earn, and they had to ensure they were promoted before breaching financial fair play rules.
Fortunately for everyone involved in the project Nuno Santo and Ruben Neves guided Wolves to a Premier League return and they have thrived in the division, immediately qualifying for the Europa League. Wolverhampton Wanderers have an excellent opportunity to gain entry to the competition again this term and could yet make a break for the Champions League, as they are four points off Chelsea in fourth. But financial figures reveal how far array the situation could have gone had they not been promoted.
In the 2017/18 Championship season, alone Wolves made an operating loss of £65m, which would have been entirely unsustainable in the division. However, the proof that the investment was worth the risk came via their £10m profit, courtesy of a return to Premier League action as their league distributions shot up from under £7m to £115m. In total since returning to the top-flight, the club has spent £207.41m on new signings alone as they attempt to compete with the Premier League’s established order. The owners Fosun Group have helped to make that expenditure financially feasible via £131m of borrowing, but with the club now recording an operating profit, the level of lending does not appear quite so risky.
Wolves will welcome Espanyol to Molineux Stadium in the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday, and the clash highlights the tremendous journey the club has made in a very brief period. Furthermore, the fixture serves to shed light on the owners’ ambition for the future and how the most significant financial gamble in the football clubs history has been a rousing success.