Football Focused

Wolves' Premier League promotion has seen celebrations across the city. We talked to Chief Executive Jez Moxey about the effect the team’s success will have on the region and beyond.

While Wolves fans are still celebrating their team’s elevation to top flight status, Chief Executive Jez Moxey is firmly focused on securing their place there in the future.

For him, promotion has come a year earlier than he had originally hoped for in a planned evolution which started three years ago with the appointment of manager Mick McCarthy.

“To have won promotion to Premiership by a fair margin is a remarkable achievement," he says.

“For us to be able to talk of Wolves as being back in the best professional football league in the world is really positive for everybody.

“I feel very good about the fact our plan has come together and we’re now working to reinvent the team as a premiership football side that has the ability to compete at this high level.

“Of course, there were big celebrations when we went up but now there’s the realisation that while it’s a fabulous achievement for the club, city and all our stakeholders, the task at hand is huge. We are going about that with great gusto and will be looking for more experience to complement our young, hungry players.”

Their success is set to have far-reaching benefits in the region and beyond, with University of Wolverhampton analysts estimating the economic benefits could bring an extra £10 million to the city.

Mr Moxey says: “I agree that it will bring millions to the city and do a lot more besides. This is not just going to have a significant economic impact on the area, but will also have far-reaching benefits from a profile and feel good factor standpoint. I think that will have as much of an impact as the economic benefits.

“People just feel really happy that the club is being successful; it’s something for the area to be proud of and talk about positively.

“The local community should do everything it can to support its football club because it can bring all kinds of benefits to the area.”

As close neighbours, the University enjoys a good working partnership with Wolves and dad-of-four Mr Moxey believes higher education is an investment that will pay off for young people.

"Education is so essential. We have a responsibility as parents to highlight the importance of education to our children. In these economic times it is even more important for people to continue with their education to give themselves the best opportunities."

Mr Moxey emphasises the importance of close working relationships which are mutually beneficial and have a positive impact on the wider community.

"The kind of partnerships we have with organisations like the University are essential in today’s modern world," he says.

“We work together to do what we can to improve people’s lives. Our roles co-exist and I think the University will benefit enormously from our successes. I think it will genuinely have a positive impact on admissions. Being next door to a Premier League football club is a big selling point. Our matches will be shown in over 200 countries, raising international awareness of the Club and the city of Wolverhampton as a whole. Having Wolves shown across the world will influence the work the University does with international recruitment.”

Wolves already has fans all over the world because of its hugely successful history and Mr Moxey also believes there are opportunities to attract new supporters, and renew interest from latent followers.

He has visited a number of countries through his role and will soon by flying to Perth for pre-season training.

After a visit to South Africa, he was so touched by what he saw and the hospitality he received that on a return trip he took Wolves kits and gave them to local schools.

A visit to India last year forged links with the Punjab. Both the University and Wolves are partners of the Wolverhampton India Project.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline Gipps and Mr Moxey were among a high-profile delegation who visited the Punjab to promote links between the region and the city. Agreements were signed with partnership organisations as a commitment to working together in the future. While international links are vital, Wolves are aware that most fans are indigenous and the club is committed to putting something back into the local community. The club runs an enormous range of outreach programmes through Wolves Community Trust and its football in the community department.

Wolves also gives away more money to worthy causes than any other football club in the country, including a six-figure sum to local causes, through the Wolves Community Trust and Club owner Steve Morgan donates a seven figure sum each year via his own Morgan Foundation.

Last month saw the first workshops held for a pioneering new business initiative at Molineux. Wolves are supporting the University to help create a new generation of UK graduate sports entrepreneurs.

Working with FlyingStart Programmes at the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, the development scheme for sports-related businesses and social enterprises is the first of its kind in the UK.

Karen Bill, Associate Dean (Research and Income Generation) at the University’s School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure was thrilled to get Wolves’ support.

The programme will help participants develop and condition their enterprise proposition and to provide support, assistance and mentoring to get their business started and running successfully by March 2010.

They will receive their own personal mentor who will work with candidates throughout the 12 month start-up and launch period.

“Entrepreneurialism is exactly what we like and we’re really pleased to be supporting this scheme, particularly in the currentclimate,” says Mr Moxey. With his strong business ethos and professional success, it is exactly the kind of initiative he is happy to support. His drive and commitment helped Wolves to secure new sponsorship at a time when other clubs were struggling to do so.

“ agreed to the partnership with Wolves in the New Year when they didn’t know whether we’d be in the Premier League. They made a commitment to a Championship club and it was remarkable that we were able to do that during the height of the recession.”

He has been at Wolves for nine years now, and has been in football for 22 years. He admits that he is always striving for perfection and constantly driven. A successful six-year stint at Stoke City saw him lead the Britannia Stadium development and he would like to see a redevelopment of Molineux in the future.

“I think we could potentially see the ground increase capacity and improve facilities for supporters. We’re currently in dialogue with our stakeholders. It’s vitally important to have buy-in from everybody, we understand the importance of close relationships and value the partnerships we have in and around the city.”

He would also be happy to stage more live concerts at the ground in the future, following on from a high-profile Bon Jovi gig in 2003. But for now, the focus is firmly on the football.

“Everyone understands how tough it will be but we have to be confident. It’s not a bad thing psychologically to be talking about being competitive, not just about surviving.

“If we shoot for the stars we might reach the sky.”