Hayward's help gives Wolves chance to return

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The Independent Football

Wolves would have faced a Leeds United-style financial meltdown but for the wealth and generosity of Sir Jack Hayward, according to his son and successor as chairman, Rick Hayward, and the club's chief executive, Jez Moxey.

In the wake of Wolves' relegation after one season in the Premiership, Rick Hayward and Moxey yesterday outlined their ambition to win promotion at the first attempt. They will start out with an encouraging balance sheet - but only because Sir Jack has written off £40m of loans to the club.

"If he had called in that money rather than capitalising it, we would have been in the same state as Leeds," admitted Moxey. "Instead we are in a healthy position to go forward. We must never get into a situation where this club is financially ill." Rick Hayward, who took over from his 80-year-old father in January, said the family still saw themselves as "custodians" of Wolves' well-being. But he added that the search for new backers was not only continuing but possibly bearing fruit.

"I asked Roman Abramovich [Chelsea's billionaire owner] whether he had a brother," Hayward said, breaking into a laugh. "But seriously, investors are getting more and more interested. People are beginning to realise that this is a well-run club."

The Haywards' preference is for another party to buy a quarter of their 100 per cent shareholding. "We'd never sell 51 per cent unless it was to someone bigger than us, who was passionate about Wolves. When we go, the club has to be in fantastic hands."

Moxey conceded that mistakes had been made, citing a reluctance to tempt fate before Wolves' play-off final last May as one reason why they began preparing for the Premiership too late. But, pledged the manager, Dave Jones, would be given "what he needs" to reinforce the squad.

"Dave's not asking for £10m to £20m," Hayward said. "However, the time will come when we're going back up - let's be positive and say January or February - and we'll say to him: 'Right, how much do we need to compete with the big boys?'."

* Wolves have offered £1.6m to Brann Bergen of Norway for the 6ft 2in Nigerian midfielder Seyi Olofinjana, 23, who is rated by his club at £2.2m and also coveted by Torino and Auxerre.

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