Wolves Chairman reveals scale of his losses

Warrington Wolves Chairman Stuart Middleton has revealed his business is set for a £100 million hit as a result of the Coronavirus.

Middleton, a major benefactor of the Super League club, is a majority shareholder of the Card Factory, which has been severely hit by the lockdown of high streets during lockdown.

Middleton was highlighting the challenges facing Warrington, who have already suffered a £1.4 million shortfall and have relied on a seven-figure investment from himself and owner Simon Moran to keep the club ticking over during the suspension of Super League.

“Our own business, Card Factory, turns over £1 million a day on average,” he said.

“We have been closed for over 100 days, so that’s £100 million off the turnover already.

“Obviously we have had a wage cut and my dividend income is going to be non-existent this year.

“I was looking at my two other investment companies and it’s the same sort of situation, so I’m probably not going to have any income this year.

“Fortunately I have reserves from the past, which helps, but it has been very difficult for the business.”

He continued: “I am really worried about it because a lot of clubs are run on a shoestring,” he said.

“Clubs that don’t own their own stadium are at an advantage, because we have a stadium that generates a lot of income and that’s gone to zero with no functions on.

“At Warrington we have a turnover of £7.5 million, 7,000 members and an average attendance of over 11,000. A lot of clubs don’t have that and it’s a worry.

“I know the sport has a government loan, but it is a loan and it’s got to be paid back. We’re hoping we don’t have to use that. We’ll cut our cloth accordingly to get back to normal.”

In an informal Q&A with the media, Wolves CEO Karl Fitzpatrick outlined the benefits the club will receive from hosting games once Super League starts.

The Wolves are one of five clubs to now apply to host games, with Catalans, Leeds, Salford and St Helens also hoping to host matches.

“The level of detail you have to provide is incredible and there may be an element of home advantage, although if you look at the Bundesliga and the NRL the away teams were getting more victories than the home team.

“But the commercial value we see is stadium naming rights and hoping that the games will have multiple broadcasts over the two days.

“The reference to the Halliwell Jones Stadium provides them with much-needed exposure, and likewise with stadium signage for our sponsors and advertisers.”