Wolves chairman Jeff Shi has issued a message to supporters to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, and insists the club will return stronger.
Shi wants to reassure fans in the crisis, which has seen the Premier League and Europa League shut down until at least Saturday, April 4, but warned them not to underestimate the virus.
In addition, Molineux, the Academy and the Wolves Foundation are to be closed from Sunday, March 15 to April 4.
Wolves striker Patrick Cutrone, on loan at Italian club Fiorentina, is one of four players and/or staff at the Serie A club to have tested positive for the virus, along with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odio and three Leicester City players.
Wolves’ Chinese owners Fosun are based in the city of Shanghai, 529 miles east of Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak.
China is by far the worst affected country in the world for coronavirus. Of the 155,839 recorded cases (up to Saturday, March 14), well over half – 80,824 – are from China.
There have been 5,814 recorded deaths from Covid-19, of which 3,189 are from China, while 74,438 have recovered, of which 65,573 are from China.
“I write this note at a time of great adversity, not just for football, or for the country my family and I are honoured to now call our home, but for the population of the entire world that we share,” Shi told www.wolves.co.uk
“I’ve been in close contact with friends, family and colleagues in China since the coronavirus pandemic began in Wuhan, which has afforded me an acute awareness of the virus’ threat and impact, and a deep desire to take all measures possible to protect our players, staff, supporters and the community that we live in.”
Shi warned supporters not to underestimate the disease and to take their safety seriously.
“I appeal to our supporters to follow our lead, and to stay as safe as possible during what will no doubt be a very testing time,” he added.
“Please don’t underestimate the threat of this virus, to you or those around you, and employ best practice to limit the spread, including good hygiene and proper social distancing, which are both key.
“Our ownership group Fosun are also very keen to do all they can to help, and have been in contact with us, and the City of Wolverhampton Council, to express their support for Wolves and the people of this city.
“I would like to make a promise to all Wolves supporters: Throughout the challenges of the forthcoming weeks and months, everyone at Wolves will continue to work as hard as we possibly can to keep progressing, keep innovating, and return even stronger and more hungry to achieve success. We will not rest.
“Until then, please stay safe and don’t take any risks. Look after yourselves and look after each other. We will get through this.”
Shi explained the reasoning behind closing Molineux for the next three weeks.
“At Wolves we have a responsibility to protect not only our players, but also every employee at the club, which is why we have taken the further step of asking all of our staff to work from home over the forthcoming days and week,” he said.
“From my knowledge and understanding of the virus, social distancing is crucial to the fight against it, so this is a necessary course of action and a sacrifice we all have to make.
“We have also taken the decision to temporarily close important parts of Molineux, such as the Megastore, ticket office and Wolves Foundation to ensure that our staff are able to stay at home where possible and make their contribution to limiting the spread of the virus.
“All of our staff will of course continue to be paid for the duration of the club’s closure and this period of uncertainty.”
Shi praised Wolves players and management for their professionalism in playing under the difficult circumstances of behind closed doors away to Olympiacos in Athens, Greece on Thursday night in the Europa League round of 16, where they drew the first leg 1-1.
“I would like to heap praise on our coaches, players and staff who travelled to Athens this week to take part in a fixture that none of us felt was appropriate to play,” said Shi.
“They showed great professionalism and dedication to take to the field in a stadium devoid of atmosphere, in a continent gripped with anxiety, and still deliver a performance and positive result.
“Of course, we took all appropriate measures to ensure the staff and players who travelled were protected where possible from the threat of contracting coronavirus, and we will continue to keep improving these measures all the time to help them remain safe and healthy.”