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Team Sorted

Middlesbrough: Steve Gibson shows no sign of joining the takeover frenzy


Alex Wolstenholme

Alex Wolstenholme is an exiled Sky Blues season ticket holder currently living in Sheffield...
[full biography]
20/06/2007 09:00:00.
read: 1323 times.

Another round of takeover speculation is sweeping English football with Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers the latest clubs to be linked with new overseas owners rushing to snap up a piece of the Premiership.

Manchester City remain constantly in the news as they await the arrival of Thaksin Shinawatra while Newcastle are also the subject of interest, albeit from inside the UK.

Amidst the frenzy, Steve Gibson remains firmly in charge at Middlesbrough and more to the point still energised by the challenge of taking the club forward despite the fact that in the current market, his club would be an attractive propositon for any potential buyer.

"Yes, I do. I really do," said Gibson, when asked recently if he still enjoyed the role of club chairman.

"I really enjoy it.

"I am selective who I have around me because I don't take anything out of the club except enjoyment and fun.

"If you can do that then the camaraderie can be brilliant."

The early years of Gibson's reign when Bryan Robson was spending plenty of money on successes such as Juninho and flops such as Branco provoked a sneering attitude from some but they can be seen now as a necessary part of the chairman's future plans to establish the club in the top-flight.

Middlesbrough now have a thriving academy system at Rockcliffe Park and a first-team squad with a number of home-grown talents, Stewart Downing being the most high-profile.

They have an articulate, bright, young English manager and, although still very much competitive in the Premiership and the transfer market, are moving away from throwing big money at ageing stars.

There has been some criticism of the way the club allowed Mark Viduka to run down his contract but they did make the Australian a very competitive offer to stay, one that Gibson himself admitted had caused him a bit of concern.

The capture of Jonathan Woodgate proved that 'Boro can now sign players who are at the right age and who are wanted by other clubs.

"It is no more difficult for us than it is for our peers in football to attract players," said the chairman.

"We are on a virtually level playing field once you get outside the big hitters.

"Those clubs can only take so many players, and then we have got to fight our corner and make sure we deliver the players we want."

As one of the few clubs outside the top four to win a major trophy in recent years and with a Uefa Cup final appearance to boot, Gibson's reign can only be judged as a massive success.

'Boro are unrecognisable from the club they were 15 years ago and most crucially, their progress has been built on solid foundations.

No matter how much money the current crop of new owners have to spend, there can still only be one Premiership winner and four Champions League places.

If Middlesbrough are missing out on anything by not having a super-rich new owner (and that is questionable) it is more than made up for by the knowledge that the club is not subject to the demands of the stockmarket or the whim of one investor who wants instant success.

"I have seen some of the deals which have gone through in recent weeks and I am glad we haven’t been involved in them," said Gibson in an interview with the Daily Mail.

"We all have the same money coming in from TV revenue and it is how you angle that and run your club. We don’t have shareholders or a board of directors who need paying, we run it very efficiently so every last penny goes into the club and we feel we can compete outside the top

"It has become a game of resources and we are aware that we have to produce the resources to give Gareth Southgate a fighting chance.

"I’m not saying we will win the Premiership or the Champions League, because we won’t."

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