£26m turnover vs £89m expenses: Wolves’ worrying formula for Premier League promotion

By David Owen

March 7 – Wolverhampton Wanderers, the famous old Midlands club, now Chinese owned, which is enjoying a successful return to the English top flight, ran up an eye-watering £55 million loss in its promotion season.

The figure, which compared with a £20.8 million loss the previous season, was incurred on turnover of just £26.4 million.

While the result seems unlikely much to inconvenience Wolves themselves, whose TV rights income is set to skyrocket in the present season now that the club has attained the promised land of the Premier League, it may spark considerable concern among their former rivals in the Championship, English football’s second tier.

This is because of the potentially grave consequences for clubs which may feel obliged to rack up losses of similar scale in order to stand any chance of featuring in the promotion picture, but which then fail to go up and gain access to the Premier League’s millions.

Wolves’s operating loss for the year to 31 May 2018 was still more spectacular at £62.8 million, reflecting operating expenses not far off double the previous year at £89.2 million.

A big component of this was, of course, staff costs, which surged to £50.7 million from £28.2 million. The club has been able to recruit an eye-catching number of Portuguese stars in recent times, including Rúben Neves, the experienced Joāo Moutinho and Hélder Costa.

The club, whose glory years came under Stan Cullis’s management and Billy Wright’s captaincy in the 1950s, is part of the Shanghai-based Fosun International conglomerate.

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