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Defending Steve Gibson: Part 1: Financial Backing

Middlesbrough fans concerns regarding Steve Gibson’s financial backing often come through the lack of spending during the transfer windows. An issue that has irritated Boro fans on a number of occasions. However, the complexity of footballing rules, particularly FFP in the Championship meant that there was only a little wriggle room to make the required signings.

These issues come out of a number of factors having a spontaneous impact on the clubs overheads this season.

The first of which is Middlesbrough’s previous spending; the largest of which came during Garry Monks tenure at the club as Steve Gibson vehemently supported his manager to ‘smash the league’. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, the season didn’t unfold as Steve Gibson and Garry Monk envisioned. During this time of heavy spending, Middlesbrough poured £50m into 15 new signings, on impressive championship contracts, of which a number still remain at the club.

Many fans point to Middlesbrough’s outgoings as an explanation for Boro’s big spend during that summer, as they recouped £45m of their spend on outgoing players with the £5m extra being covered from the small profits from their season in the premier league.

However, that isn’t quite the case as the club had acquired an enormous wage bill of £65m; which was sustainable and even slightly profitable in the premier league but having such a wage in the championship is the equivalent of a convenience store hiring 500 staff full time; incredibly unsustainable. Although Middlesbrough were able to remove a number of the premier league seasons highest earners, they replaced them with players that were high earners in the championship. Even supported by the parachute payments, Middlesbrough still considerably ate into their FFP overheads during a season that they hoped for an instant return to the premier league.

Unperturbed by Middlesbrough’s failure in their first season back in the championship, Steve Gibson once again signed off on a number of signings and although not to the extent of the previous season, they were far reaching enough to eat into the majority of the FFP overhead; banking on Middlesbrough’s chances for promotion to the Premier League under Tony Pulis.

Since Boro remained in the league going into this season; and the parachute payments coming to an end, Steve Gibson had to reshuffle the clubs finances once more in order to stay beneath the FFP rules. It was due to this change in circumstances that they couldn’t spend extensively during this season.

It would perhaps be valid to question which players earn the bulk of the hefty wage bill, particularly since the club has fallen to such a lowly position. Many fans would claim that there are a number of high earners at the club that haven’t proven themselves to be worth the contracts they have been awarded. However this is a discussion for a different time.

It is also important for Middlesbrough fans to realise that Steve Gibson has consistently paid off the clubs losses. In turn keeping Middlesbrough financially secure despite its considerable financial output; meaning Steve Gibson floats the club on over £1m injections each month. This shouldn’t be taken for granted as a number of owners in the English game let their club to wallow in debt; only paying it off with profits earned from the club itself, which is a rarity. This means that there are a number of clubs with growing debt, sometimes to the owners themselves in loans that they expect prospect owners to pay off on buying the club. In other cases, such as Hull City, the owners withdraw any profits that the club makes, recently stating that no player will be given a wage over £5,000 from next season onwards, meaning that if they do stay up, they will probably struggle to compete in the league when the next season comes.

To summarise, Steve Gibson is one of the best Chairmen in the league when it comes to financially backing his club within the restraints of FFP. A rule that he has so vehemently encouraged the football league to uphold, in cases including that with Aston Villa.

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