First things first, the recent vocalised suspicions of the workings of Wolves have not been born from opposition fan jealousy (or ‘obsession’) or even the recent Villa-Wolves media-created rivalry of supporters (personally, I don’t even know any Wolves fans!).
Most Championship team supporters have applauded the way Wolves have played their football, when their respective teams have faced them and have long ago considered Wolves winning the league as a given.
Rather, the recent debate has been born from a cross-fire at board level, that started months ago.
The issue, as MOMS has already discussed, is how agent Jorge Mendes’s agency Gestifute, which Wolves own a stake in, functions in terms of bringing players to the club. Simply put, are the club using some kind of creative accounting cover in terms of player wages to counter the restrictions of the FFP rules?
Villa owner Tony Xia subtly hinted at Wolves transfer methods via Twitter towards the end of last year and has been active again recently on the subject.
I only knew it’s a……(can’t say)😜
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) March 10, 2018
Villa CEO Keith Wyness also recently tweeted an article on Wolves, following the outburst on Twitter by the Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani about the table toppers. All of this prompted the EFL to issue a statement stating they will be checking in on Wolves.
It’s since been reported that Radrizzani has also written to the FA, EFL and Premier League to ask for clarification on the link between Wolves and agent Jorge Mendes.
“I want to understand the rules so I can act like them,” Radrizzani told BBC Sport, perhaps with a hint of irony. “If it’s possible I would do the same as it’s been proven to be successful for the team.”
Wolves Fight Back
In response to the wave of insinuations against his club, Wolves chairman Jeff Shi decided to go on the offensive this weekend granting the Express & Star an interview about the recent headlines. He used the opportunity to directly call out the likes of Radrizzani, even firing a shot towards Wyness, who he met on Saturday at the Villa vs Wolves game.
“I was also surprised to see the Twitter of Keith (Wyness). On Saturday I met him and said ‘what happened?’, Shi told the newspaper.
“I’m the chairman of a club so I can understand the pressure. We’re the guys facing pressure from fans and the league and I can understand releasing pressure on Twitter.
“On the other hand I think frankly it’s laughable, because they know nothing about us. I know everything about us and our club and what we’re doing.”
On the Cheap
The main question mark over Wolves ambitious transfer strategy, which Mendes has fronted is how Wolves have suddenly attracted the likes of Helder Costa (£13m) and Ruben Neves (for a Championship record of £15.8m) and how much are they actually paying them.
It’s been since reported that the likes of Neves and Diogo Jota are allegedly on less than £20,000-a-week, making their wages seem to be well below their market value.
One question that has had many in the football industry puzzled, is how do you persuade players with Champions League credentials to come to a club in a lower league, on lower wages? Since they could command a lot more at a higher level.
After all, isn’t the role of a player’s agent to get their man the best financial deal possible?
Jorge Mendes surely knows a thing or two about that.
Claret and Blue Wages
It seems to be opposite of what Villa have had to do to attract better quality players for the division.
The likes of James Chester, Mile Jedinak, Glenn Whelan and Tommy Elphick were all coaxed from the Premier League to play in the Championship, by being offered Premier League wages. Also, they were sold a vision that only the first season of their contract would be spent in the Championship, the rest would be back in the Premier League, once Villa were promoted, since they were strong favourites to achieve that.
John Terry’s short-term deal is very much a Premier League level wage deal too.
Also, Villa vastly improved the wages of the likes of Ross McCormack, Jonathan Kodjia, Scott Hogan, Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane, over what they were earning at their previous Championship clubs, in many cases overpaying the market value to get their services.
The Villa model falls into the logical laws of demand and supply, while Wolves seems too good to be true.
Maybe Wolves have just found a set of talented players that have a strong moral code and don’t want to be overpaid. If so, hats off to them for finding the kind of players that MOMS thought never existed.
Of course, if Wolves are operating in a legitimate way, whether they’ve found a loophole or not, then it should be applauded and copied (as the Leeds chairman suggested).
The Wolves chairman in his recent interview was adamant that everything was above board and they had just been smart in how they’ve operated.
“I know everything about the rules of the league and the FA and the EFL knows our dealings,” said Shi. “Every transfer document, agent fees, all information is recorded in their library.”
“Our opponents don’t know much about us and it’s not a fair dispute. It’s easy for us to answer all the questions.”
Which echoed the club’s earlier statement.
We are very clear on FA and EFL regulations and always comply with them explicitly.
We welcome any form of communication with the EFL to reiterate our position, and we fully anticipate the release of a further EFL statement in support of Wolves and the club’s operations to bring a prompt resolution to this matter.
‘The Villa [wage] model falls into the logical laws of demand and supply, while Wolves seems too good to be true.’
Wolves are obviously keen to get it dealt with asap to avoid further detraction to their Championship title push. The club’s 4-1 loss at Villa Park, meant they’ve recorded one win in their last five games.
How hard the EFL is being pushed to ask the right questions remains to be seen, although their recent statement suggests they have intentions to at least try.
When you recall the involvement of Chris Samuelson in the purchase of Aston Villa and how he went from being a club director to being whitewashed out of the history of the Recon group’s purchase of the club, not everything in the football industry is transparent and explained to the average football supporter.
The bottom line of this Wolves situation is supporters want to see a sense of fairness in football, because looking around, especially at how the Premier League operates, there’s little evidence of it in the game at the moment.
In a world full of clickbait cr*p, please support independent, insightful and principled coverage of the issues surrounding Aston Villa by becoming a MOMS Patron – click here for details.