China's Fosun buys UK's Wolverhampton Wanderers for 45 million pounds
Updated: 2016-07-22 00:18
By Angus McNeice in London(chinadaily.com.cn)
The sale sees the transfer of the 100 percent ownership of the club — commonly known as Wolves — and all its assets from former owner Steve Morgan and his Bridgemere Group to Fosun Group (Fosun) headed by its chairman, Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang.
"We are delighted to have completed the deal to become the new owners of such a famous and historic club as Wolves," said Jeff Shi, who led the negotiations on behalf of Fosun and will become the club's representative and board member.
"Football is enjoying a huge growth in China and, of course, is England's national sport. As part of our strategy, it makes perfect sense to buy a great football club."
Wolves is now the second English Football League Championship side to be bought by Chinese money this year — businessman Tony Xia purchased rival midlands club Aston Villa in June for £76 million.
Wolves ended last season in 14th place in the Championship — the second tier of English football behind the Premier League — having won promotion from League One in the 2013-14 season. Wolves last played in the Premier League for a three year spell from 2009 to 2012, before tumbling down two divisions in consecutive seasons. Trophies have been hard to come by for the struggling club since the "golden years" of the 1950s.
"Our goal is crystal clear: we will do our very best to help take Wolves back to the Premier League as soon as possible and to stay there. We believe the club and the fans belong at the top of English football and getting there is our first and top priority," Shi said.
Wolves joins a long list of European football clubs to receive investment from China in recent years that include among others: Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Sochaux FC and Slavia Prague. The sale of Italian club AC Milan to a Chinese consortium is imminent.
The investment plays into Chinese President Xi Jinping's wish to turn China into a football powerhouse over the next few decades. In April, the Chinese Football Association released a 50-point long-term development plan (2016-2050) dedicated to the beautiful game, that includes significant development in grassroots programs including academies and stadia across China.
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