As Wolverhampton Wanderers sit on the fringes of a UEFA Champions League position, it is easy to imagine this is as good as it gets.
But for those involved at the club, this is seen as just the beginning.
Star names Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Ruben Neves will all be linked with Europe’s elite this summer, and manager Nuno Espirito Santo will be touted for top jobs across the continent. Yet there will be no panic at Molineux and little temptation to cash in and accept they have reached the summit.
On Saturday, they face Arsenal in a clash that can encourage their top-four push—but more telling could be their clash on the final day of the campaign against Chelsea. That fixture might yet decide whether they earn a Champions League spot.
Wolves have another path into next season’s competition if it doesn’t work out—they are still in the UEFA Europa League and face Olympiacos in the round of 16 in August.
If they do make it into the Champions League, a whole new world of opportunity will open up: new signings, new sponsorship opportunities and new supporters across the globe thanks to a fresh appeal.
This was always the dream of owners involved with Fosun International Ltd when they took over the club in 2016. Back then, sources were declaring that a new era was on the horizon in Wolverhampton. The buyout had cost £45 million but so much more investment was to come.
In 2017, a report in the Sunday People from Neil Moxley revealed how Nuno had been promised “limitless” funds in order to bring Champions League football to Wolves.
The Shanghai-based investment company, with links to super-agent Jorge Mendes, has indeed spent heavily since those early days, and success was quick to follow. They were promoted to the Premier League in 2018—a year earlier than they had planned—and now they are reaping the rewards of their ambitious vision.
Wolves have been growing their global brand even without Champions League football. Jimenez has brought thousands of Mexican supporters to the club’s social channels, and the club’s Spanish Twitter page has more than 100,000 followers. In China, they have a club shop, with merchandise specifically designed for that market.
Their official content is published in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin. The club is targeting the U.S. market as the next priority. Continue reading