This is Our Love and it Knows No Super League

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This is Our Love and it Knows No Division. This is Our Game and we’ll make the Decisions.

 

18th April 2021. Wolves had edged past Sheffield United the night before, Fulham have just conceded yet another late equaliser and the nation was nursing its first Sunday hangover for months. Some would say normality is resuming. But twelve despicable custodians of some of the biggest clubs in Europe had other ideas, six of whom brought shame upon the English game. It was during Manchester United’s victory over Burnley that news really began to gather pace that a European Super League was set to be announced, with the self-proclaimed and media enhanced ‘Big Six’ signing up. 

Within that six were Arsenal, the same Arsenal who had just hours ago scraped a point at home to Championship heading Fulham. Among those six were Tottenham, less league titles than Wolves and the same amount as Burnley. Yes, Burnley. Among those six were Manchester United, who have struggled every single time they have faced little old Wolves since 2018. You get the idea. But this was not about creating jokes, this was not about gloating over your rivals. The announcement spoke of a tournament that ‘will provide significantly greater economic growth [and] uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues’, how exciting. They weren’t even trying to hide the money grabbing experiment. This abomination was enough to unite fans up and down the country and even brought about a sense of unity in the wonderful world of football twitter. This was nothing short of an attack on our game, our traditions, our history and our heritage. An attack from people whose football opinions would not be worth the time of day. It was an attack even more relevant to Wolves fans, and fans of many other ambitious Premier League clubs, which would kill our dreams and Fosun’s dreams of one day challenging the elite on a regular basis, of competing at the pinnacle of European football. The response from neglected club officials, staff, players, the media and most impressive of all the fans was exemplary and showed the impact fans still have on our game. Our game because that is what it is. It does not belong to the cash cows in America, or the executives at Sky Sports. Gary Neville was praised and rightly so, he articulated the thoughts of millions perfectly, as did many others. But there was one moment, just 24 hours after the news gathered speed, that filled us with a particular sense of pride. It was no surprise that Fosun and Wolves as a club would be against the formation of a Super League, but the way in which they expressed their disgust was mesmerising. 

At periods of [our] history, we were one of the most successful and decorated clubs in England, falling out of the country’s top three just once over a nine-year period and winning the league three times. But at others we tumbled down the leagues, spending seasons in the second, third and fourth tiers, almost going out of existence on more than one occasion. (Official Wolves)

And this is certainly worth remembering. If you dare mention the fact Wolves were in League One just seven years ago on twitter you are often shunned down, and don’t you dare mention the years of struggle when Wolves nearly went out of business. Now when trying to make excuses for Wolves’ lacklustre campaign that may be fair, but Wolves fans should take pride in the ride this club and its fans have been on, in both long standing and modern history. Everyone reading this now will have endured the double relegation, the feeling of desolation and despair. But will also have enjoyed the revival, spearheaded by Kenny Jackett in what was a thoroughly enjoyable two years that followed. ‘This is Our Love and it Known no Division’ was the banner and the phrase that rejuvenated the fanbase, and it is a mantra that means more now than ever before. From that season we finally had a team that cared. We had a team that gave 100% and that is all a Wolves fan is ever going to ask for. 

In sport, nothing is forever; champions come and go, dynasties disappear, sleeping giants awake and new challengers test the status quo. That is the beauty of sport, and what epitomises the beautiful game. (Official Wolves)

Perhaps the most striking and quotable part of the Wolves statement. It needs no explanation and speaks to football fans up and down the country. It emphasises the point that this is not about who you support, or where you watch your football, this is about our game itself, our passion and our way of life.

As a foreign owner, Fosun came to the UK in 2016 and embraced our club, our history and our supporters, but also the country and its proud traditions, one of which is the most historic football system in the world. That sense of competition is what appealed most to Fosun then, and still just as strongly now. Our promotion and relegation systems, built on solid foundations of competition and fairness, create promise, ambition, success and failure – all of which are essential in the sport. If you work hard enough and operate with greater intelligence and commitment than your competitors, you will be successful, you can challenge the top clubs and rise to their level through your own efforts, and that cannot change.  Fosun made a commitment in 2016 when they took over this historic football club and have displayed their dedication since, taking Wolves on a journey from the Championship to the Europa League – an example of the type of ascent which makes English football so special. That commitment stands just as strong now, in 2021, as it did five years ago. Fosun remain completely devoted to Wolves and harbour the same sizeable ambitions, which they hope to achieve through a meticulous, long-term plan. (Official Wolves)

This is certainly where the statement becomes personal to Wolves fans. Fosun have brought huge success on and off the field since buying the club in 2016. Although the past 12 months have been disappointing, the club is in as good as a position now as it has been for generations. Much was made of such a historic and traditional club being taken over by a Chinese investment group, but almost all Wolves fans had a feeling we’d hit the jackpot (unlike some of our neighbours). Jeff Shi openly admitted he knew little about running a football club and the rollercoaster first season certainly didn’t argue with that. But he learnt, Fosun learnt, and three near-perfect years followed. There is certainly learning to be done from this season too, but Fosun relayed their commitment with this statement, while providing Wolves fans and English football with a reminder that not all foreign owners are bad. The mention of operating with ‘greater intelligence and commitment’ to ‘challenge the top clubs and rise to their level’ was a direct warning to the owners who are scared. Scared of us, Leicester, West Ham, Leeds and all the others who have bridged the gap to the cosy club in the Premier League. Well, we’re here to stay, all of us. There is no doubt Fosun are here to run Wolves as a business, they are an investment group after all and a successful one at that. But they respect our traditions, and they respect history, the clubs’ values align with theirs and they want success for the club just as much as we do. 

A kick in the teeth and a kick in the pockets of these billionaires, cowardly billionaires, that own some of our biggest and most historic clubs with some of the most loyal and vocal fans around. A victory for us who dream, to put our trust in Fosun, Jeff Shi and Nuno and to get back on track. Next season brings new hope and huge expectation, and if they get it right, we’ll be playing for a place in European competition once again. A victory for football and its fans (Sorry, legacy fans), and this is just the beginning.

 

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