By David Owen
October 30 – Wolves chairman Jeff Shi has confirmed that a stake in the resurgent Midlands club is up for sale, while disclosing that the Chinese-controlled outfit made a profit of roughly £20 million in 2018-19.
An article in the Financial Times also suggests that Hong Kong-listed Fosun International is gauging investor appetite for a potential public listing of the famous old club as part of an entity containing other sports-related assets that it owns.
“It is more to test the market, to see the value of Wolves,” Shi told the newspaper. “It is more about getting the right partner with strategic connections.”
Reports that Fosun was open to selling 20% of the club, which it bought for £45 million in 2016, started circulating last month. These indicated that the Chinese conglomerate was putting a £350 million valuation on the club.
This supposed valuation seems in line with the £280 million which Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley had apparently been seeking prior to last March when he was reported to have taken the Magpies off the market. However, the business model that has sustained top-level club football in recent decades – ie large cheques from pay-TV companies keen to lure as many eyeballs as possible to their channels – looks to be increasingly under pressure. If financial experts conclude, as a result, that current turnover levels at ambitious clubs may not be sustainable, then a knock-on effect on asset values seems logical.
After a highly impressive first season back in the English top-flight, Wolves got off to a sluggish start to the new season and currently lie 12th in the Premier League table. The club has earned the mixed blessing of a slot in this season’s Europa League, where it is in Group K alongside Beşiktaş, Braga and Slovan Bratislava.
A £20 million profit would represent a substantial, if predictable, financial turnaround, after an eye-watering £55 million loss in the club’s promotion year.
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