Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson hits out at 'chancers' and foreign owners in the EFL

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has hit out at 'chancers' and foreign owners who have operated in the EFL.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 1:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 2:08 pm
Steve Gibson had his say on owners in the EFL.
Steve Gibson had his say on owners in the EFL.

The 61-year-old was speaking on the Football League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and the plight of Bury and Bolton Wanderers.

The Shakers were expelled from the league last month, while the Trotters have survived going the way of their fellow north-west club.

Gibson, one of the most respected owners in English football, has invested heavily in Boro since leading a consortium to help save the club from going out of business in 1986.

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He noted that the duo’s difficulties came down to “bad owners”.

Speaking to the Northern Echo, he said: ““Ultimately, what happened at Bury and Bolton was a result of bad owners making a series of really bad decisions. You can have all the rules you want, but if owners try to spend money that isn’t there, it’s only going to end one way. It’s the same in any other form of business, if your outgoings exceed your incomings, you’re going to be in trouble if you can’t plug the gap.”

The person at the forefront of Bury’s demise was Steve Dale who came in for an abundance of criticism.

Gibson opened up on the differences in football ownership over the last 15 years with the arrival of foreign or unscrupulous owners looking to make a “quick buck”.

“When I first came into Middlesbrough, I would probably have fitted the norm. Clubs were generally run by local businesspeople who had done reasonably well for themselves and who wanted to put something back into their local community. They saw the importance of their local football club and wanted to protect it, and they lived among their fellow supporters so in that sense they were accountable. They were part of that community.

“In the last decade or so, there’s been a major shift to owners with much more complex agendas. On the one hand, you’ve got what I might call chancers, wanting to take over struggling clubs to make a quick buck, and then on the other, you’ve got a raft of foreign owners who operate under completely different rules to the ones we have to observe.

“Their agendas are different to ours, they’re not subject to the same regulations that we are, they don’t pay UK taxes like we do. Sometimes, they’ve made their money in ways that would simply not be allowable under UK law. Generally, their aim is to get their club into the Premier League, because that’s where the money and prestige is, and so the financial side of running the club is secondary to them.

“That’s concerning, and is something I think we have to have a serious think about. Is that the way we want our football to go? Or would we rather have owners who want to put the long-term interests of their club first? I know which I would always choose.”