Sky Sun (left) with Jeff Shi
I’ve read some right madness on the internet telly thing over the past few weeks about the whole Thomas Cook failure and the ramifications for any Fosun related funding of their jewel in the Crown Wolverhampton Wanderers. Allow me to wax some lyrics about it.
First of all the Fosun Group probably won’t be taking that much of a whack from Thomas Cook going down the chute. Some estimates have put the figure between 38 and 43 Million Euros. About what you would pay for half of John Stones really. That kinds of puts it in a clearer light anyway. Plus with all the problems Thomas Cook had over the past 18 months or so I suspect Fosun was already starting to nail the windows shut as the leaves from the coming storm started to blow around in Fosuns front garden. Fosun are not idiots. They will have learned much from how the disintegration of Thomas Cook flowed from the start of their troubles to the finish last week. I would be quite happy to look at the Fosun acquisition of Thomas Cook in 2015 as an errant variable in Fosuns often flawless and relentless global march. Thing is my friends…when you are a global company with investments scattered all over the globe then a pissing amount like the Thomas Cook investment is a gnat dick of a hit. They will be more pissed off at the emotional damage to their self esteem than a few quid trust me. The money involved in Fosuns march across the globe are that vast they have become abstract and meaningless on the larger map. It doesn’t mean diddly squat mate.
But what does that mean for us? Wolves?
I know there has already been some lyrics in the press and from academic sources as to the ‘horrendous’ losses Fosun will have to bear now Thomas Cook is no more. This is just noise. You can be as empirical as you want about the figures and the accounts flying around but ultimately the position Fosun hold worldwide is becoming unassailable in terms of micro positions like the Thomas Cook investment. Like the team at Wolves they are learning rapidly about what actually constitutes ‘business’ in the wider worldwide context like we are learning about how to play six or seven games a fucking month. It’s learning curve time….and very interesting for us.
Many of our fans can’t understand why we aren’t doing a Manchester City and piling in players that are above and beyond financial constrictions other clubs have and why we aren’t using the financial clout of the Fosun entity to dominate these markets. Things are very much different to when Manchester City and the Mansour family started to flex that Oil money around. Financial Fair play or FFP is often a term thrown around by people who don’t have much of a clue about how it works. When Mansour started to crack his wallet open the ownership of clubs was pretty much (in the UK) dominated by Boardrooms full of dusty white men who had owned a local firm or made money doing old school shit like building or flogging insurance. They made money and that money gave them a ticket to the big tables at clubs. Nobody knew at the time what an impact these Oil men like Abramovich and the Mansours would have on English football and in the wider context some European clubs too. This was reigned in rapidly by governing bodies of the major footballing associations with a tranche of legislation that has grown every month or so with new constraints and new implications for clubs. Manchester City made the most of it for sure while the going was good. Abramovich fell by the wayside a little via FFP but mostly by his close association to Russian figures in Politics and finance in direct competition with our own Westminster Oligarchs, commonly called ‘The State’. You can kick against the pricks as much as you want but when the pricks are as firmly entrenched as Westminster then there will only be one winner.
Fosun now have to navigate absolute bear traps of legislation to pull Wolves from the nether regions of the Premier League to absolute dominance. This means throwing money at the whole subject is a no-no. The whole Wolves journey cannot be extrapolated with the Man City experience any more and any parallels with it should be shot down immediately. There is a gulf between the Mansour family and the Fosun idea for Wolves and I will tell you why.
The Chinese are a whole different ball game to the Oil Sheiks. We have seen Laurie Garglypimple sent off into the void already. OK there have been many reasons bandied about on Social Media and other rumours as to why he was shunted off. The Rod Stewart gig was one of them. I think they ran out of beer or didn’t have the requisite staff on duty. Man, if I listed every little rumour then I’d be here all day typing. I have my own thoughts as to why he was thrown into the void.
I suspect it was the fact Laurie wasn’t totally au-fait with the Fosun ethic of ‘how you do shit’. Companies in the Far East aren’t the enemy to people that work for them. They have a Philosophy in major companies that sometimes verge on the edge of becoming Scripture. When you go to work for a company then you basically give your life to them. Everything you do in your life becomes entangled with Company directives and dogma. You give your working life to them. Moving between companies in the East is almost unheard of. They say jump, you say how high? Here is where the vapid and abstract world of finance becomes enmeshed with the Chinese philosophies. Laurie was a variable that Fosun did not know very well. If they didn’t know him then his position was a weakness and that goes for everybody that works with Fosun. If you aren’t a full member of the squad then you have to be moved on. Fosun require an almost fanatical employee base with an almost Mormon adherence to the tenets of business Fosun espouse. I think Laurie was a weak link in the chain. But Tenets…
One of those tenets was prevalent in our Promotion season. The cries of FFP weirdness was led by Aston Villa and Leeds with a few other clubs throwing their hats into the ring as well. What did Wolves do while under attack? Nothing. A few soundbites thrown out by Jeff Shi that were so ambiguous that they could hardly be called soundbites at all. There was no defence and no attack just a strange ambivalence as the press and the FA made strange negative noises. The Fosun way. There was no to and fro from Fosun just a relatively dignified silence on the whole subject. What happened to Aston Villas hierarchy? Off into the void…what happened with Leeds? They eventually shut up (which was a shock) The Fosun Crazy Train trundled on over their corpses. By making big noises and throwing annoyed shapes the Boardrooms and Chief Executives of these two clubs crumbled immediately and became the drunken pisshead fighting the Bus shelters of every town and city of England at 2 am in the morning.
The whole Jeff Shi experience was one I expected for sure. Bring in somebody that has some idea of how to do business in the UK and Europe. Make them that Chinesey that anyone that has any dealing with him have some comforting feelings that they have a dude in front of them that ticks all the boxes of what they expect from a Chinese big cheese at an English football club. Unassuming, quiet, reserved, private typical Chinese businessman and the pen just goes on ticking the boxes and his opponents feel very happy knowing that all their prejudices about Chinese business has been confirmed. This effort gave his opponents much happiness. But it wasn’t what Jeff was about. I knew that the first time I set eyes on him. He was a Fosun Jesuit if you like. Directives were everything, there was no room for any creative meanderings from the scripture thank you very much. But Jeff was what was required at the start of the whole project. Jeff ran rings around them and was exactly what Wolves needed. But is he any more?
Knowing Chinese business as I do I can see that our Jeff will be off back to China soon and will probably be the interface between the new Fosunites in the boardroom at Wolves and the Fosun high tables back in China. Jeff Shi was the perfect foil at the time and his appointment was pin point in it’s accuracy. His disarming smile, buying pints in the Great Western, his happiness to have his photo took with every doughnut that shouted ‘Oi Jeff’ while he was walking into the ground. But now the whole show has changed. The landscape is much different and the stakes are higher. Now no stone can be left unturned and no route left uninvestigated. Now the running of Wolves will be ramped up to levels absolutely unseen in that Wolves boardroom. They cannot neglect a single aspect of the way Wolves is run.
Who will replace Jeff? Enter Sky Sun who will probably be our new big cheese either by the end of the season (which I suspect) or (if our European campaign grows more and more successful) before. Who is Sky Sun? He’s the dude mate. Young, ambitious, sports marketer and soon to be the new face of Wolves Worldwide. When he puts on the big hat shit will really start to happen trust me. I say trust me because I have actually said hello to him outside the ground while he was walking into Molineux. I’ve met many people in my life and I like to think I get a practically complete picture of how and why that person does what they do in that few seconds between me saying hello and them practically running off because I’m an often frightening looking dude. But I’m also an observer because I write things so I have to have some idea of what I’m writing about. I can tell when people are lying, it’s a major skill, I can also read between the lines of anything I read. Sky Sun is the Don trust me. He has a presence that would scare me if I was working for him. With him in place there will be no cock ups like Garglypimple on board. I’m not cussing Jeff Shi here. Jeff is a dude that has had to learn hard and fast while juggling an insane entity such as a football club. Jeff has been an absolute demon in turning this club into the transitional club it is at this moment. But. There will be a new covenant written for people that do work for Sky Sun and he will be fucking ruthless in propelling Wolves to absolute global dominance. He used to work for Nike too, expect a sponsorship tie in with them with new bespoke kits instead on the off the peg standard Adidas ones we have now. Expect the unexpected.
Of course as I’m just a doughnut who can type words on a blog that sometimes seem to have some order why would you listen to me? I don’t know to be honest, but something is about to happen at Wolves. They have been too fucking quiet.
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