Date: 19th June 2019 at 8:00pm
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You’d have thought that Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson would’ve been more excited (and focused) on the fact that they’d just appointed Jonathan Woodgate as Tony Pulis’ replacement as they look to challenge for promotion in the Championship campaign of 2019/20, but the Riverside outfit’s owner allowed himself to become distracted in a way Donald Trump would be proud of.

At the press announcement last week, Gibson couldn’t help himself when it came to taking another swipe at Aston Villa and other clubs that he believes have breached Financial Fair Play, despite the known facts so far absolutely disputing his warped version of events here.

Okay, these figures have to be treated with some caution but the Hartlepool Mail pulled some believed figures together on Wednesday and with combined three year losses of £39million allowed with some owner subsidy, they tally Villa as only having an estimated loss of £27.7million with us tightening our belt.

As said, those figures can’t be treated as gospel as they won’t involve the full picture, but the EFL have the full picture and with claims of embargoes being handed out, we don’t seem to be facing any additional investigation or sanction.

With Gibson having utterly failed in his motion for all Championship member clubs to open their accounts for independent viewing – a motion that not even Middlesbrough voted for – it’s not so much that Gibson is back to the drawing board, it’s more a case of trying to control his faux Hulk-like dribbling.

With the EFL taking swift action against Birmingham City for their known breaches of FFP, they have our figures, they have Derby County’s figures and they have every clubs provisional figures for the 2018/19 campaign and we’ve heard diddly squat, with CEO Christian Purslow (and head coach Dean Smith) reiterating that we have met and complied with the letter, as well as the spirit of the rules.

The Birmingham Mail quoted his words.

“When you say finances are tight, what I am quite sure about is we have rules called Financial Fair Play and off the pitch it’s important every rule is followed. If the rule is not going to be followed then don’t have it. If the rule is there, if we have a centre-half who picks the ball up in the penalty area, I don’t expect the referee to ignore it. If a player deceives the referee, I don’t expect that to be ignored. And I don’t expect the EFL and other clubs to ignore Financial Fair Play. It’s there, it’s a rule, it’s an important rule, it needs to be followed. And if it’s not followed sanctions must be taken against those clubs that cheat.”

Asked directly if he felt clubs were cheating in his opinion.


Which is an interesting outlook on reality, because that’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. He can’t even lean on Birmingham’s punishment, or the transfer embargo’s placed on Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest or the fines Leicester City and Bournemouth paid, because they didn’t cheat – they breached the regulations and suffered a consequence.

Gibson, in the Donald Trump and Boris Johnson world of facts we now live in, doesn’t seem to understand that the EFL have the facts and his ‘opinion’ is worth as much as a statement on the side of a red bus.

Again, and not for the first time, if we have breached we will face a fine, given the EFL’s own oversight means that a points punishment is off the table, and after their efforts with QPR and Birmingham, you can bet your bottom dollar if there was a sniff we’d breached massively, they would’ve done something about it to further drive home their powers.

They didn’t, they haven’t, there have been no leaks or direct quotes about concerns following the March assessment, so maybe Gibson should look a little closer to home. After all, given he’s such a proponent of following the rules, maybe he should take a look at 3.4 and find a mirror.

“In all matters and transactions relating to The League each Club shall behave towards each other Club and The League with the utmost good faith. Further, each Club shall deliver to the League a copy of the Club Charter signed by the appropriate Relevant Person for and on behalf of the Club. The League shall be entitled to publish the Club Charter.”

Calling fellow member clubs ‘cheat’s, making accusations without proof and effectively slandering clubs, and by default, club employees is hardly acting with ‘utmost good faith’ is it.

Isn’t it also sort of hypocritical? Derby owner Mel Morris seems to think so.

“The sale of fixed assets is allowed in the rules. In 2016 a club (Boro) got promoted who chose to sell the tax loss from the football club to the parent company, because that then makes it revenue which is a positive towards profit, to help remain within Financial Fair Play. When I raised that at a meeting in March, the representative from the club said it was allowed in the rules at that time. So is this! What is different? You set the mould and we copied your lead, now you’re bitching. He (Gibson) had the hypocrisy to do that. Even his own fans called it out on their forums and said ‘how dare we do this with our own history’. We discussed this issue again in April and there wasn’t a single vote against, including from their own club! They didn’t even vote for their own motion. It is absolutely hypocritical. I didn’t write the rules.”

Ho hum.

Last article by MF: Cheers, Steve Gibson Is Crying Again – Major Changes Behind The Scenes At Aston Villa

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