With news this week that Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson had thrown his toys out of the pram and reportedly highlighted the financial affairs of Aston Villa, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday, demanding an EFL investigation in the process, it led to broadly similar reactions amongst fans on all fronts.
Everybody noticed he wasn’t saying this before Villa had passed Middlesbrough in the Championship table as they suffered the expected implosion under Tony Pulis and his pragmatic anti-football approach. He wasn’t saying this before Derby (one point behind, but game in hand) were breathing down their necks or even Sheffield Wednesday complicating Play-Off hopes for them, as former gaffer Steve Bruce has helped send Wednesday on a remarkable run of form given the season they have had.
Most noticed the Financial Fair Play assessments had only gone in last month so are still being poured over by the FFP panel at the EFL to assess any potential breaches, and there were other things about his wibbling that rubbed people up the wrong way.
Wednesday’s owner has made no bones about implications for them, Derby’s ground deal will be assessed under the ‘linked arrangement’ aspect of FFP and the spirit to which the rules apply to see if it’s just clever, or breaches market value judgements, and in fairness, the EFL have been slightly busy dealing with Birmingham City as the priority case for a precedent lately.
Suffice to say, when you have Villa, Derby and Wednesday fans seeming to agree on social media, you’re likely to have made yourself look a little bit silly.
With head coach Dean Smith holding his pre-game press conference on Thursday, Gibson’s angry wibblings as reported obviously came up, but he was calm and measured in his response as quoted by Sky Sports when asked if he felt we had any issues.
“I don’t believe so. I’ve not seen any quotes attributed to the chairman, who is meant to have said it. It’s out of my remit. My chief executive tells me we’re fully compliant.”
Adding about formulating plans for next season.
“Yes it is difficult, but it is difficult for probably 10 other teams in this division as well! We’ll look at the two possibilities and plan around that, which you have to do.”
It’s understandable why so many feel Gibson has gone for the distraction technique here to try and lead headlines, as bottom line is having proved their point against QPR and Birmingham, if any side have erred, the EFL will act to strengthen their own position.
Gibson doesn’t need to run any kind of game here, the EFL will be looking themselves. I’m sure he knows that, but that’s not the point is it.
There’s slightly more thoughtful language in the original article’s Forum Thread but the points remain broadly the same.