The first Fans’ Parliament (FP) of the season kicked-off on Tuesday (September 15) and you couldn’t have got two better people to question about club affairs than Kenny Jackett and Jez Moxey.
After an indifferent start to the season, the sale of Richard Stearman, the loss of Bakary Sako and a search for his replacement, fans had a direct opportunity to quiz the men on the ins and outs of the club at this moment in time.
This was my first FP and I knew it was going to be an good insight into just how accountable the FP holds the powers-that-be at Molineux.
Jackett answered questions for more than an hour from both the floor of the meeting and via a live blog.
He spoke openly about his beliefs, where players fitted into his plans and his selection policy.
Some of the noteworthy responses he and Moxey gave from the meeting included:
- There is no deal with Arsenal where Emiliano Martinez had to play a certain amount of games and that no deal had been cut for Benik Afobe to leave Wolves prior to the end of his contract.
- There is no wage cap at Wolves but Jackett said that ‘parity was important for the dressing room’ and acknowledged attacking players commanded higher wages. He said Wolves outspend ‘the majority of The Championship’.
- Jackett has a lot of belief in Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Dominic Iorfa, Kourtney Hause and Danny Batth and that all were likely to overtake Stearman next season. Said all have Premier League potential and need games to reach it. Also admitted there was ‘greeness’ to the current side.
- Regarding the Kevin McDonald contract dispute he said the club had to find middle ground with K-Mac and that they want to keep him. He said the midfielder had been affected by the issue.
- Moxey said the sale of Stearman wasn’t motivated by money and that Nathan Byrne’s acquisition wasn’t done with the finances from the defender’s sale. Moxey revealed Wolves had scouted Byrne 26 times and with Rajiv Van La Parra expected to leave, he was snapped up.
- Sammy Ameobi was shown around the Wolves training ground and spoke to Jackett about joining. Moxey wanted to sign Ameobi but Jackett told the chief exec he didn’t want him. Jackett also said he’d be interested in Manchester United’s James Wilson if he became available.
- The head coach admitted he was still trying to find the right blend for the team. Individual errors had led to the changes in goal for Carl Ikeme and Martinez. He said he needed to get it right and he needed to get it right quickly. He took full responsibility for the league position and that the team had to start winning to get the club ‘out of a lull’. Fans had called for Jack Price to return but Jackett said he’d had an ankle injury and admitted he’d be reluctant to play both Price and Connor Coady in the same side.
Jackett was very honest about team affairs and even answered some questions Moxey was reluctant to. He didn’t go on the defensive about his players when they were criticised by FP members. He was positive, spoke with a great amount of belief in his squad and their futures. He accepted he needed to get things right and when asked where responsibility lay he said ‘on him’ – It was refreshing to see.
After Jackett’s Q&A came the regular Fans’ Parliament meeting and I wanted to see first hand this forum that had been openly criticised by many supporters – including myself.
*I couldn’t stand the Wolves Fans’ Parliament, so that’s why I joined*
As stated previously the FP has a reputation among fans at Molineux of being too soft, that members nod their head to the club’s PR narrative and that questions are loaded with self interest.
So when the first question of the night asked why Wolves had switched from selling crisps to Pringles on matchdays, I buried my head in my hands – thankfully it was tongue in cheek.
Moxey faced a deluge of questions about the club’s finances and its transfer policy. While he cut a frustrated figure having to dismiss rumour after rumour (most that started with ‘well, what I’ve heard’ and ‘I saw it on the Internet’) you got the impression that he enjoyed sparring with the supporters who tried to take him on.
He spoke about Sako and said it was ‘almost impossible’ to find a replacement of Sako’s ability adding ‘we’re talking about a player who has walked into a Premier League side and scored two goals’.
Moxey also batted away suggestions Wolves are always looking to cash in, he added, ‘If I’m this machevillian person that people would have you believe we’d have sold Bakary Sako on the final day of the January transfer window, which we could have done’.
The chief executive was asked if the sale of Stearman had opened up funds for which Wolves then used to sign Nathan Byrne. Moxey revealed Wolves had scouted Byrne 26 times before his purchase.
It was also mentioned about Redrow PLC (the company chaired by Steve Morgan) recording record profits. Moxey said it had nothing to do with Wolves adding ‘the only thing in common is Steve Morgan is the chairman of both’.
Before the meeting the club had been handed a statement from online fans’ forum Molineux Mix which had raised issue with transfer policy and the sale of Stearman.
Moxey said he had read it – twice – and summarised it as ‘some parts say we need to buy some more players while others say we shouldn’t be all about buying players’. It was also interesting to hear Moxey monitored fan message boards and the Express & Star blog.
An interesting development from the meeting came when Matt Grayson, head of marketing and communication, revealed Celtic had been given permission for safe standing at Parkhead and Wolves were willing to take FP members to Glasgow to see safe standing in operation.
This was a pleasant surprise as I’ve long supported the introduction of safety rails at football and it’s good to see Wolves getting closer to making it a reality.
After transfer matters the less sexier items of tickets were brought up of where I was asked to ask two questions on the matter.
A reduction in ticket price saw Wolves’ largest attendance of the season.
Lynne O’Reardon, Wolves’ head of ticketing, said the club couldn’t offer too many discounts of tickets as it would then devalue the price of a season ticket.
She added that they tend to offer discounted tickets in January as money is tight for supporters after Christmas and the New Year.
A fair point but with falling attendances how long before this is done ahead of January?
The second question was, with Wolves a university city and the youth team sponsored by the university why is there no NUS discount for students? I mentioned that international students could help spread the word of Wolves overseas.
Lynne responded saying the club had tried numerous times NUS incentives on freshers’ week with no success and so had reverted to their under 21s ticket policy to attract that fanbase.
In summary: When fans are asking hard hitting questions to the likes of Moxey and Jackett you can really see the value of the Fans’ Parliament.
Jackett spoke very well and with great belief about Wolves and his willingness to take questions for more than an hour showed he won’t hide from responsibility and for this he must take credit.
Moxey is a man who appears to have all the answers and revels in role as a mythbuster as he bats away sourceless rumour after sourceless rumour.
He gives a good insight into the financial dealings of the club and the fact he’s thicked skinned (stop giggling at the back) enables him to challenge supporters who asked questions ‘they’d heard somewhere’.
The club couldn’t stress enough how they wanted the FP to be transparent. They repeatedly asked if there were any questions they wanted answering and ensuring all those who wanted to have their say had their say. In truth the only reason questions for Jackett stopped is that the same questions were being repeated.
For me where the FP lets itself down is when questions that serve self interest come into play. One member asked about the collar on the home shirt suggesting no-one liked it before going on to talk about a collar they’d prefer – I can’t remember being asked my thoughts on it. The FP, sadly has too many members who are so desperate for an insight into the club they’ll believe any rumour on the Internet. Much of the meeting was taken up quashing things weren’t true as opposed to dealing with the things that were fact.
Tuesday’s meeting cleared a lot of muddy waters but it’ll be interesting to see the content of the questions without a manager’s Q&A and if Wolves are back on track.
By Adam Thompson