CEO Jez Moxey has today re-iterated the Board’s commitment to not over-stretching Wolves financially – but says boss Dean Saunders will be supported in the loan market and then again in the summer.
The January transfer window passed without Wolves making any additions to the senior playing squad, but Moxey has backed up the views of Saunders that the club were unable to get any decent value on targets who would have added quality to the squad.
The CEO admits Wolves are operating to a different financial level having been relegated from the Premier League, albeit with a wage bill expected to be among one of the highest in the Championship, and has cited the rejection of offers for key players as a continuing sign that the club remains ambitious.
Moxey has also revealed the club were always planning to reduce the wage bill in January, both from a financial point of view but equally tellingly to ensure a more manageable squad size where players weren’t picking up money whilst being nowhere near the first eleven.
“There was a very clearly laid out plan for January regardless of who was our manager that we wanted to reduce the size of the squad,” Moxey confirms.
“People will say ‘cut away the dead wood’ – but it was about ‘cutting away the people who are not contributing’.
“We wanted to reduce the squad by more than we did, but we were not able to do that.
“We wanted to shift two, three, four - maybe even more players.
“There is a feeling at the club that too many players just doesn’t help the morale, doesn’t help their own self esteem.
“We’ve got training sessions with the manager playing with 22 players and eight are sitting on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs.
“That is not conducive to creating the very best competitive atmosphere within the place.
“So we took the decision that we wanted to concentrate quite a bit of our efforts on trying to get people out.
“People may not like it, of course they would like to see loads of signings, but we didn’t want to add to the squad unless we knew that manager could bring somebody in that was going to be absolutely nailed on to help the team there and then.
“And because he wasn’t sure I think it is admirable of him not to just say: ‘let’s do it’ - a brave decision given the pressures we are under.”
Moxey has re-iterated that the Board do not interfere with the footballing side of the business with the exception of policy issues such as being keen for the manager to develop a balanced squad and not look to sign “four, five or six 31-year-olds.”
And although there was money available to strengthen in January, he has revealed that Saunders was not willing to buy just for the sake of it.
“People may think: ‘The manager has not done anything, what on earth has he been doing?’” says Moxey.
“But just think from his perspective.
“He didn’t want to just do a knee-jerk reaction - act in haste repent at leisure - he didn’t want to do that.
“He kept saying to me: ‘What is the point in taking him - he is not better than the player we’ve got’.
“I’d like the fans to try and understand, and I don’t think they always get it, that trying to build and find better players than you have already got is very difficult.
“It is masked by the activity of other clubs - some of whom are financially irresponsible.
“Some have just got so much money, especially in the Premier League, that they go and buy players and our fans and other people think: ‘why can’t we find that player?’.
“Well, do you know what? Because we can’t afford £15million and £150,000 a week - that’s why.
“To try to find the player that you can afford that fits in with the dressing room protocols and so on - it is just not that easy.”
There was activity in the outgoing direction with Wolves seeing Frank Nouble and Richard Stearman depart for Ipswich permanently and on loan respectively, and coming to contract agreements with Ronald Zubar and Steven Mouyokolo, whose first team action has not been regular in recent times.
But bids and interest were rejected in vice-captains Kevin Doyle and Stephen Ward and, perhaps most tellingly, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who could now leave for nothing in the summer.
“If people are questioning things about money, we could have sold Sylvan Ebanks-Blake for a huge amount of money but the manager said to us: ‘If we get right of him we get rid of our best goalscorer - and why would we want to do that?’
“We could have probably got somebody else if we had sold Sylvan but the manager didn’t want to do it.
“I think 90 per cent of clubs in our position would have cashed in, definitely, with six months remaining on his contract – it was a very significant offer.
“Forget the fact that we have lost millions of pounds because we could have sold him.
“The manager didn’t think he could get anybody better than Ebanks-Blake so from a footballing point of view, it wasn’t a ‘statement’ - although it has turned into one because we haven’t been able to parade a big signing.
“Purely from a football point of view the manager said we can’t do that and we agreed with him.
“The same happened with two or three other players whereby for football reasons we would not sell.
“We had a big offer for Stephen Ward, and Kevin Doyle had an opportunity to go somewhere that was very attractive for him and we said no.”
Moxey continues: ““Fans have criticised us in the past because when we’ve been in the Premier League they don’t think we have spent enough money on our team in terms of wages.
“But we will now be the second or third highest wage bill in the Championship.
“People can blame whoever they want to blame and look for a scapegoat, look to point the blame, at the chairman not spending enough money, at Moxey who keeps the purse strings tight etc.
“You can bet your bottom dollar that whilst the summer was a very difficult period we were expecting to be competitive and when we got into third place after beating Blackburn nobody was saying anything about: ‘You haven’t spent enough money’, or ‘You are not investing enough money in the team’.
“We are having this unrest now because we are losing matches left, right and centre that we believe we shouldn’t be losing – it is simple as that.
“Whilst people are looking for someone to blame we - all of us - from the chairman, Board of directors to the managers we’ve had, and absolutely to the players in the squad, need to look at themselves and say; ‘are we doing enough to ensure this great football club has a good last quarter of the season?’
“Because we believe and I think our fans believe that we should be doing much better than we are, and we should not be in 21st place with 16 games to go.”
Jez has also moved to point out that parachute payments are not there to give an advantage to clubs relegated from the Premier League but more to “soften the blow” given the fact that while every member of the Wolves squad received a drop in salary, wages are still high in comparison to the rest of the division.
“We are in a reasonable position, and a healthy one compared to most clubs, but we’ve got to be realistic,” he added.
“The drop is enormous from the Premier League.
“Cash-flow is more difficult and the parachute payments come in stages.
“Put succinctly, the drop in revenue including the parachute payment is nowhere near enough to cover our expenses in the Championship which is why there is a misnomer that parachute money gives you an advantage over everyone else – actually it just helps to soften the blow.
“We’ll make a loss this year, and the parachute money gets less each year, so the pressure to get back to the Premier League is very big.
“But we will not mortgage the club’s future.
“Steve Morgan put in £30million of earned income when he bought the club.
“He wants the club to be self-sufficient and there is nothing wrong with that.
“If people think we are going to act irresponsibly and spend money that we know we have no hope of ever repaying then they are wrong.
“The Chairman won’t do that and I would not want to do that because we have seen what happens to clubs who become completely financially irresponsible.
“We have to be realistic and I think our fans, in their own lives, are realistic.
“They are hard-working and they know how many pennies make a pound and that is why they always put pressure on us to reduce ticket prices because they think it is expensive to turn up.
“We have talked about all of that and are doing our absolute best in a difficult industry to make it all work.”
And Jez has strongly refuted claims made over the last week that Steve Morgan’s commitment to Wolves and in particular in a financial sense is affected by his other business interests such as his Chairmanship of Redrow.
“Redrow PLC has no bearing on Wolverhampton Wanderers whatsoever,” says Jez, who adds that the homes the company are building to underpin the Compton Park development are an “insignificant speck” in their nationwide activity.
“The only link is that both companies have the same chairman but there is no financial inter-dependancy on either company - none whatsoever.
“Steve Morgan is not taking one penny out of Wolverhampton Wanderers and never has.
“He goes into the shop, gets his chequebook out and buys Christmas presents for his son and actually pays the full retail price on every item he takes - just like Sir Jack Hayward did.
“Compton was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that had someone not had the balls, like Steve Morgan had to drive things through, it would never have happened.
“This magnificently beneficial project would not have come off and it was due to risk takers – whether it will make a profit (for Redrow) I have no idea.
“I am not sure we are having to defend the chairman that much but there are conspiracy theories that have literally gone mad.
“Everything then gets under the microscope - there must be a reason.
“It must be the chairman diverting all the money – but the money is out there on the pitch!
“It is there - we haven’t cashed it in.
“As I have said, I think people are missing the elephant in the room, and that is that this team should be good enough to do better than they are right now.”