Ramifications explained as Wolves ‘forced’ to pull out of South Korea pre-season tour
Here are the reasons why Wolves have canceled their pre-season tour in South Korea and what it means logistically.
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Wolverhampton Wanderers have pulled out of the arranged pre-season tour in South Korea following a dispute with the promoter and organiser, the Old Gold announced on Thursday.
Julen Lopetegui and his men were due to take on Scottish champions Celtic and Europa League finalists Roma at the end of July, but those fixtures have now been abandoned.
It was set to be Wolves’ first-ever trip to the country and supporters in that part of the world – many of whom would have been excited to see Hee Chan Hwang – have now been let down.
The decision follows weeks of delays for tickets going on sale, so those won’t need to be refunded, but Wanderers are apologetic to fans regardless and will support those who have booked travel and accommodation.
Why exactly has the tour been canceled?
“The withdrawal from the scheduled matches comes after numerous financial and logistical obligations were not met by the tour’s promoter, Stadium X/USG,” a club statement from Wolves said.
Effectively, promises were not met by the organisers and going ahead with the tour would’ve been too much of a risk for the club. Russell Jones, Wanderers’ general manager for marketing and commercial growth, has explicated this.
“We are absolutely gutted to not be going to Korea. We’re all devastated because we had so many different things planned for supporters that we’re now not going to be able to fulfil,” Jones said.
“The tour was brought to us by a well-respected and established group, so it gave us confidence that this would be a really exciting tour and at no point whatsoever did we think we’d be in the position we are right now.
“We have been in close dialogue with the tour promoters for the past two months as they sought new investment, following the loss of the original tour investor, but unfortunately, and despite numerous promises, they have not delivered.
“We’ve not taken this decision lightly and have explored every avenue thoroughly in an attempt to not let our fans down, including numerous conversations with other local promoters.
“Of course, this decision is a big blow to the club from a commercial perspective, but I am fully aware of the most important reason for pre-season, which is the preparation for another important Premier League campaign.”
What will happen next?
Jones has made it clear Wolves will try and push through the disappointment and find an alternative solution, with options being explored across Europe. Long-distance tours have been offered, but that would be a logistical nightmare at such late notice.
Regret has also been placed on record for the loss of opportunity for supporters in Asia to be able to see the players up close and personal, including Korea international forward Hee Chan, who is of course a favourite.
“Korea was an exciting proposition for us because of the impact Hee Chan has had on the club from a marketing perspective, but also because of a lot of the work we have done and the growth we have seen amongst our fan base in Korea,” Jones continued.
“In the last three or four months, there have been so many people who have put a lot of hard work into this tour from an operational perspective.
“We wanted to give our fans in Korea – both those who exist currently, and hopefully lots of new fans – an amazing opportunity to meet the players and take part in different events and activities which we have been arranging.
“We already had a lot prepared and planned for our fans in Korea and we were really looking forwards to meeting them.
“This is why we’ve allowed this situation to play out as long as we have, but we have now reached the point where we’ve had to make the very difficult decision to source alternative plans for this summer.
“I’d like to put on record my thanks to the multiple suppliers and partners who have worked relentlessly to prepare for our arrival in Korea, and although we are all bitterly disappointed, we hope our fans understand that this situation was out of our control,” Jones said.
Work is already underway to decide on Wolves’ alternative pre-season destination and the club will announce their plans in due course. In the meantime, those directly impacted by advanced bookings for the Korea tour are advised to contact Fan Services.