Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club ( listen) (commonly referred to as Wolves) is a professional association football club based in the city of Wolverhampton, West Midlands. The club was originally known as St. Luke's FC and was founded in 1877 and since 1889 has played at Molineux. They compete in the Championship, the second highest tier of English football, having been promoted from League One in 2014 after a solitary season at that level. Since 1888, Wolves has spent 63 seasons – or 64 if the abortive 1939–40 season is included – in the highest tier of English professional football (currently the Premier League, but, between 1892 and 1992, the Football League First Division). Over the same period, the club has also spent 50 seasons in the second tier (24 of these occurring since 1989), four seasons in the third tier and two seasons (1986–87 & 1987–88) in the fourth tier. Wolves last played in the Premier League between 2009 and 2012.
Historically, Wolves has been highly influential, most notably as one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888, and for playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the European Cup, later to become the UEFA Champions League, in the 1950s. Having won the FA Cup twice before the outbreak of the First World War (including once as a Second Division club in 1908), Wolves developed into one of England's leading clubs under the management of ex-player Stan Cullis in the seasons following the Second World War, going on to win the Football League three times, finish as runners-up three times and win the FA Cup twice more, all between 1949 and 1960. It was during this period that the European Cup competition was established by UEFA, after the English press declared Wolves "Champions of the World" following their victories against numerous top European and World club sides in some of British football's first live televised games.
Wolves has yet to match the successes of the Stan Cullis era subsequently, although, under Bill McGarry, the club contested the first-ever UEFA Cup final in 1972, and won the Football League Cup in 1974, a trophy it lifted again six years later under John Barnwell. However, financial mismanagement in the 1980s led to two bankruptcies and the club's very existence coming under threat, as well as three consecutive relegations from Football League First Division to Football League Fourth Division in the period from 1984 to 1986. The club's revival began in the 1986–87 season and back-to-back promotions, first as Fourth Division Champions and then as Third Division Champions under manager Graham Turner (with the invaluable input of club record goalscorer Steve Bull) saw Wolves finish the 'Eighties back in the Football League Second Division, having won the Football League Trophy along the way.
Despite the financial backing of then-owner Sir Jack Hayward during the 1990s, Wolves were unable to regain a place in the top flight of English football until 2003, when manager Dave Jones ended their nineteen-year exile, although only for a solitary Premier League season. The club returned to Premier League level when manager Mick McCarthy led them back as Football League Championship Champions in 2009, but McCarthy's dismissal in 2012 preceded relegation back to the Championship after three seasons. The following season, 2012–13, saw two further managers dismissed as the club then suffered a second successive relegation, ending up in League One. However, in the following season Wolves gained promotion as League One Champions with a record Tier 3 points tally, and the club has resided in the Championship since 2014.
In July 2016, Wolverhampton Wanderers were taken over by the Chinese investment group Fosun International. On 8 April 2017, Jeff Shi, who Fosun appointed Executive Chairman of Wolves in the summer of 2017, was reported as saying: "Fosun has a long-term plan [for Wolves]. Promotion [to the Premier League] is definitely not the ultimate target for us – we have to get to that and after that we want to be a really strong team in the Premier League. It’s a long-term plan."Close