The unlikely partnership between Wolves and Grasshoppers

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Who are Grasshoppers?

Grasshoppers Club Zürich (commonly known as Grasshoppers) are a Football team from Switzerland based in Zürich. Grasshoppers are one of the biggest teams in Switzerland and they can bolster all of this with facts and stats:

–  They hold the record for the most Swiss Championships (27).

– They have won the Swiss Cup the most times (19).

– They have won the Swiss League Cup twice.

– They have won the Swiss Super Cup once.

– They are the oldest club from Zürich.

– Notable players that have played or progressed through the youth ranks at Grasshoppers include Diego Benaglio, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Roman Bürki, Pajtim Kasami, Yann Sommer, Haris Seferovic, Henri Camara and Papa Diop.

 

In recent years

Times have changed in recent years at Grasshoppers  and they haven’t been so good.  A number of factors are poor recruitment, mismanagement, constant change of coaches, presidents, players, staff have led the team into huge debt and financial problems. They have been threatened with relegation to the Swiss Challenge League (2nd division) a few times and their fate was finally sealed in 2019 after a shambolic season on and off the pitch that saw them finish in last place. 

The hope of restoring their dominance and title of Switzerland’s best has recently been restored. This happened in April when a 90% stake of the side was sold and bought by an overseas company. That happened to be Champion HK Holdings, a Hong Kong-based company owned by Jenny Jinyuan Wang, that if you are not familiar with, is the wife of Guo Guangchang, the owner of Fosun and Wolves. This is where it makes more sense and starts to involve Wolves. 

Wolves’ partnerships

Wolves have had various partnerships across the years the most notable being AFC Telford, FC Jumilla and just recently Kidderminster Harriers. They all have one goal and that is to work closely together helping each other out sending players on loan to one another hoping they can produce talent and learn something. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case, at least for the first two teams I mentioned. With AFC Telford, the Wolves u23 side used their New Bucks Head for home matches and in exchange, Wolves sent players on loan to the National League North side. 

With FC Jumilla we sent a whole bunch of players and ended up taking David Wang from them. These goals were never reached and the final results were pretty dreadful most of the time – the divisions or leagues the players were playing in weren’t good enough and Wolves didn’t get anything in exchange. 

However, the Grasshoppers and Wolves partnership seems to be completely different, although it hasn’t been announced nor made official by either club. 

The club has been changed and reconstructed internally and former Wolves board member Sky Sun and former European Scout at Wolves, Bernard Schuiteman have been instated as President and Sports Director respectively at Grasshoppers. 

This wasn’t their first movement between the two clubs, back in 2019 Wolves signed Christian Marques from the Grasshoppers youth teams and in the latest transfer window, they signed Ed Francis and Boubacar Hanne on loan from the Wolves U23s. The loans of Francis and Hanne may have seemed really strange when they happened, and rightly so because as young players what they needed was game time and experience at a good level among men and it didn’t look like something they could get in the Swiss Challenge League. When you look back at it now with all the pieces of the puzzle or most of them, it makes more sense. There have even been some transfer rumours circulating around players signing for Wolves then being sent out to Grasshoppers for a few seasons to obtain a work permit or to develop there to be sold on for a bigger fee. So, I think this is something we will be seeing a lot more often in the near future, whether it be our youth players going there or as I said before, players being signed and loaned there.

All in all, even though they are currently playing in the Swiss Challenge League (2nd division) this is a great move by Wolves, partnering with a club like Grasshoppers because compared to the previous teams Wolves have partnered with they are a much bigger club with a richer and more defined history.

Matthew Gentile is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.