I am a simple man. The world of high finance and business rarely interest me but when it come to my Citys Football team I will bend the odd eye at an article or a clickbait tweet. Because what lies in between the words and the narrative in any article concerning finance you can extrapolate into the real world and perhaps, sometimes you can order your view and hopes for your team by finding the words that aren’t there. Last week I kept getting old fashioned emails off a dude who keeps talking about Fosun and what they are about and what they want for the future. I replied tersely and was abrupt. It was boring. Until I noticed that between her words there were meaty morsels of information that could only come from inside Fosun itself. Now it was interesting because it was like spying…that was very interesting.
So I try to ascertain what the groove was in terms of questions people were asking about Fosuns long term plans. She is very happy to reply. She’s Chinese you see. Happy. A football fan. A Wolves fan. I tell her I will write about it. She is unhappy…but happy again all of a sudden. I wonder whether she is a Spy herself….a disinformation agent. She rang me up last night and we spend an hour and a half talking about Fosun and Bees. Don’t ask.
So I want to know broadly about Fosuns intent and we go back to the halcyon days of Moxey and Morgan. Fosun wanted a club in Europe. Something they could build onto and up. Some club to develop. Fosun look at perhaps 30 clubs. A list if you will. Then Fosun get to work finding out the zeitgeist of every club. It’s capacity and footprint to build on ‘History’ and ‘Brand’. They see Wolves on the list and the further the process of elimination goes the more Wolves seem to weather the Fosun means test. We tick boxes for them.
The modus operandi is looking for a club that fits into the framework and the model they have chosen to emulate. Because despite the economic power of China, they cannot create. But once a creation is there, then there is no one like the Chinese to manage and grow. Fosun look at teams like Leicester, Dortmund and Red Bull Leipzig. This is the model they will follow. There will not be big sums of money to spend because the keyword is not spend but to invest and grow. Financial controls mean that they will not come in with huge amounts to lather the club with. Everything must be sustainable. Everything must have strict controls. Build and manage effective strategies to explode into the big six and financial rewards. Fosun have a debt to equity ratio of (at the time of writing) 0.54 which means everything is looking very good…you see a score of 0.5 is extremely healthy and as a side note the gearing ratio for Wolves is 0.34 which is hard nipple territory. But Fosun also have a flexibility to their strategy. Same thing I was talking about in regards the team. Small and flexible, adaptable and tactile. Fosun use the strategy of using Insurance premiums for their investments. Adaptability? The Moody downgrade of Fosun last year would have had serious implications for Fosuns investments in the squad. Adaptability meant that they were able to get that Moodys downgrade reversed in a matter of weeks. As above so below. The Macro and the micro we see major global decisions and policy used on a world stage and a football one.
But as Fosun are closely linked with the politics of China how may that effect the club. We are tangled in geopolitics that’s for sure, Anything that affects the Chinese government also affects Wolves. Closely watch what’s happening in Taiwan and Australia. India and South America in regards to Chinese government policy. Remember as above so below, we can again extrapolate bigger solutions to smaller problems. Wolves fans of course and to be honest most football fans are interested in what happens on the pitch rather than around it but we must have some idea of these lofty ideals by big entities such as Fosun to glean information about what may possibly happen in the future. We have seen the ‘velvet glove’ purchases of PSG and Manchester City with Saudi money, we have seen the House of Saud interested in Newcastle and other English clubs. Middle Eastern money is not Chinese money. We must stop trying to equate their business models with what Fosun and Wolves are doing. Even with a generalised idea of Chinese investment we can start to get a grip on who stands where on the world stage but we can also look at Chinese investment in football and see that again there are also subsets and divisions of thought. There is a type of errant Chinese investment. The type of investment in football clubs that doesn’t really have any kind of strategy like Fosun. I see you Tony Xia and Carsten Yeung. I see you emulating the House of Saud model but without the constant flow of cash. They don’t have the backing of their government like Fosun do. The intricacies of Fosun are an almost perfect reflection of the intricacies of their government. There has been scrutiny of Chinese ownership of Football clubs over the past few years. Heavy scrutiny with the odd note here and there of a subtle racism from certain members of the press and speaking heads in politics. We see departures from Athletico Madrid, Aston Villa, Sparta Prague and a signalled attempt to depart on behalf of Suning in regards to Inter Milan. We see the Chinese flexing their muscles on an over the top TV deal with the EPL and again reading between the lines we see that the Chinese are in the room, sat at the big table, elbows jostling at the trough. Heads banging together. A perfect reflection as I said of Chinese government policy being performed on a micro scale as regards club football.
We see these moves every day in the press. We will see in the future some extremely negative news as regards Fosun and Wolves. We see this already as we watch Match of the Day and other big media platforms seemingly uninterested in our journey and our struggles, our victories. We see snide comments, hear weird abstract and negative things on radio. We see Leeds slathered in an almost sexual manner by Pundits but us? Nothing. Why is this? Read above. The Established order of fat white men at the FA walk the same carpets as members of the state. The narrative comes from them. They do not like Fosun. They are wary of the Chinese government big thoughts of the Lizards in Government are the little thoughts of the Newt brained idiots in the media and FA hierarchy. Western Liberalism versus Chinese totalitarianism. Wolves in the middle being tugged this way and that. How long will Fosun stay in this fight? On the small scale the fight is exactly the same as the one happening right now in the South China sea. The endgame will be fascinating.
I understand China better than most I suppose. Coming from a Multi cultural area and City has allowed me to have long standing friends who are Chinese. I have worked in partnership with Academics at major Chinese Universities. I am familiar with obscure Chinese history and Literature, it’s art and it’s culture. Do I understand the Chinese? Of course I do. What do I think?
The Chinese Government are patient. Fosun are patient too. They know to make things grow they have to be nurturing, gentle and indeed patient. Something not seen in football at any level. We seethe and we moan as we see players come and go. Jota to Liverpool was less a loss than a statement of intent for Fosun. We sell players to clubs we compete with and that means we will invest the money in other players better, more suited to the way Nuno wants to play. But to make them better players they have to be developed and nurtured too and then they will be sold. There are no more heroes any more The Stranglers warbled long ago. They are right. We will of course have heroes in the team…on our level, on our understanding. But these players are commodities, they are things to be moved around dynamically in order to develop the idea and the finances to grow and dominate football. FosunWolvesGroup are developing ‘presence’ in dynamic young arenas. Esports, Fashion, Media. Fast moving areas of growth for the future. Bench marks of a progressive policy many House of Saud clubs lack. We see Fosuns intent reflected in how they pick and choose figureheads for their club/media/fan events. It is obvious that their latest figurehead is divisive and negative within a portion of our fanbase but you know…that Indian Dollar is a big dollar. India will be a huge market for Fosun and the concerns of the fans unimportant on the larger scale. What about the rest of the World? South America. USA, Africa? What about Eastern Europe which is destined to be the next growth area in terms of disposable income. Fosun will slowly move into these areas and this blog this whole Southbank Resistance thing is doing the same. As above so below. I have made contacts with football fans in India, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Slovakia, Russia, Chile, USA, and China itself. They all read this blog and more continue to read and become fans the more I write, the more I act like Fosun. Brexit will mean we look around the world for opportunity and seize it. A global network if you will. Build it and be like them.
This season has seen mistakes in the way Fosun have run the club. The small scale squad, some of the new players, the communications have been awful. The next five years will see some of our best players move clubs and generate cash. We will be sad and there will be horrendous fumes but we must look at the bigger picture. Nuno, Jeff and Uncle Jorge Mendes are the Holy Trinity at Wolves and they must be on top of their game in the next few years. Hard work is good but learning from your mistakes is better. Learning and taking on board the lessons they have learned. I think Nuno is the best Coach in the World at this moment because he is the only one who truly understands what Fosun want and at the moment what Fosun wants is what Nuno wants. We as fans…what do we want? The same I think and as we travel along the paths Fosun forges we are going to have a lot of questions for ourselves. How do we move forwards? We have to emulate Fosun. Grow, adapt, challenge and evolve. We are not important to Fosun, we have seen that with their choice of figureheads but we can make ourselves important. We can make ourselves stronger, challenge Fosun and Wolves, challenge their narrative. We hold our clubs history in our bones and Fosun will never take that away from us. But if they want our history they will also have to come and talk to us at some point. Make contacts with other fan groups around the world, try and make sure behind all the glitzy videos and often blunt communications these people will at first see…underneath is a far more interesting Wolves experience and a chance to tell these new fans around the world really what we are. Stop arguing with each other and organise. Organise events and make charity fund raising ideas, make music and art, if you can’t do that then support people that do. Support each other and maybe we can add our voice to the great symphony of FosunWolves attempt to dominate world football.
If you like this article then how about supporting it a bit? In the close season there are going to be big changes to it. Redesign, a shop, a section for more diverse writing. Buy a tshirt or something. Maybe this one…in 1988 I joined a Photography course with one problem. I didn’t have a camera. So I ran down to Antiques and Collectables in Worcester street and I bought a broken Russian camera from 1942. I took it home, stripped it, fixed it, loaded it and took it behind the Northbank to maybe photograph our team. This was one of the shots I took and made into a tshirt. Stevie Bull himself. A bit knackered waiting for the ball. The arse end of the Northbank. An old mini. A crowd. Chuck me £15 and £3 p+p to my paypal firstname.lastname@example.org tell me the size you want…get one size larger, and I will send you one. Thank you for reading X