Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani has mounted a fierce attack on Wolverhampton Wanderers, accusing the Molineux club of a transfer policy which was “not legal and fair” in the wake of a 3-0 defeat tonight.
Wolves extended their lead at the top of the Championship by comprehensively outclassing Leeds at Elland Road but Radrizzani picked the final whistle to fan the flames of mounting frustration over the manner of Wanderers’ recruitment.
Several clubs in England’s second tier, including Leeds, want the EFL and the Football Association to investigate the relationship between Wolves’ owner, Chinese firm Fosun International, and high-profile agent Jorge Mendes.
Fosun owns a stake in Mendes’ agency, Gestifute, and a number of the Portuguese’ clients are on the books at Molineux, including their manager Nuno.
Vast spending on footballers of the calibre of Ruben Neves, Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa have helped Wolves run away with automatic promotion but rivals teams have voiced concerns about Mendes’ influence and the finances involved.
Wolves announced a £23m loss for the 2016-17 financial year earlier today and are set to lose another sizeable sum on the way to the Premier League this term. United, along with Derby County and Aston Villa, want the authorities to examine where Wolves are in breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) or other governance rules.
Writing on Twitter, Radrizzani said: “We have our own problems but we should play in a fair competition. Not legal and fair (to) let one team owned by a fund whom has shares in the biggest players agency with evident benefits (top European clubs giving players with options to buy ..why the other 23 teams can’t have same treatment). We should play all 24 with the same rules and opportunities (it’s enough to google it).
“Congratulations to the best team but hope the league can be fair and equal to all 24 teams."
Fosun’s ownership of Wolves, which began with a full buy-out Steve Morgan in July 2016, prompted major investment in transfers with a view to securing a quick promotion to the Premier League and Radrizzani’s Tweets will focus fresh attention on Wolves’ affairs in the coming days. Wolves’ away following mocked the calls for an investigation with chants of “one Jorge Mendes” during the first half.
The Italian’s outburst, however, also came on another bad night for Leeds. United, despite a strong performance from young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell who replaced the out-of-form Felix Wiedwald, were second-best throughout and conceded twice in the first half to headers from Romain Saiss and Willy Boly. Benik Afobe put the result beyond doubt on 73 minutes.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side are in 13th position, 27 points behind Wolves but also nine points adrift of the play-offs in Radrizzani’s first year as owner.
Heckingbottom, who has taken one win from six games in charge, said: “It’s an indication of where we are. This is where we’re at.
“We’ve competed in some games and fallen short in others so we’re short of where we want to be. If we want to be a team at the top of the league competing for top-six places, we’re short.
“The disappointing this is that when Wolves were at their best, and they’re a good team, they never scored from their opportunities. We conceded from two set-plays and a long ball over the top. But that’s been evident throughout the season.”
Heckingbottom, however, refused to get involved in the argument over Wolves' finances. "I don't pay any attention," he said. "It's nothing I'd be able to influence or even tell you what the rules are.
"I'd be guessing if Wolves have done anything against the grain but what I do know is that this league is riddled with teams who've got more money than others. It will be that way forever with the parachute payments."