GIVEN Middlesbrough’s long running dispute with Derby County over the last few years, it is clear to see that the club are big advocates for operating within the perimeters of the Financial Fair Play.
Chairman Steve Gibson saw his claim against the Rams come to a resolution last season after Boro missed out on the Championship play-offs in the 2018/19 campaign at the expense of Derby who overspent and made it into the top six.
Now that Boro have had recent but very sizeable cash injections through the sales of academy products Djed Spence and Marcus Tavernier, the club are wary of getting carried away with their newfound fortunes and will continue to operate strictly within the transfer market whilst reinvesting some of that money back into the club.
Boro have potentially netted over £20 million in up front fees for Premier League duo Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth for Spence and Tavernier respectively. There could be the potential for more to come through add-ons with both academy products being handed a huge chance to play in the top flight. However, due to the potential repercussions of FFP, Boro aren’t expected to redistribute all of that into the budget for the transfer market as the clubs recruitment staff continue to negotiate deals for new players.
There is an understanding that it would not be seen as good business or healthy practice to use all that money for the club’s budget in the transfer market, which has been a tough one to operate in for manager Chris Wilder. The boss believes in the owner’s mantra to reinvest into other areas of the club and safeguard himself from the potential repercussions of FFP whilst also remembering the dark days of 1986 when Boro were on the verge of extinction.
He said: “The owner has always, and will continue to, invest in the football club. Whether that’s transfer market, renovations around Rockliffe or the Riverside, whether it’s doing different things around Middlesbrough. He’s an investor in the football club.
“Of course it does help for Financial Fair Play more than anything. The details of FFP, I think you need a degree to really understand them. I think quite a bright football manager, I’ve had to be but it’s quite complicated at times.
“We’ve been a massive advocate of FFP. The club has been in a situation before in 86 as we all understand. I was at a fans forum in midweek and we talked long and hard about that and how we can’t overspend.
“The battle with Derby County shows everyone in football what can happen. I don’t think their fans ever want to go through it again and we’ve been through it in 86 so there has to be a degree of realism and working within budgets.”
There has been careful consideration into the way the club have cut their cloth over recent years to avoid leaving themselves in a dangerous position. After relegation from the Premier League in 2017, the club spent big under the tenure of Garry Monk signing the likes of Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher whilst retaining a number of players who were still on Premier League wage levels. A number of those players ran out of their multi-year contracts before going on to play elsewhere.
There was never any realistic danger of Boro falling on its sword but it did contribute to a limitation in their strength in the transfer market for a number of years. However, their spending power has improved and whilst the financial security of the club is important, they are being backed in the transfer market with Gibson willing to spend to allow Wilder and Director of Football Keiran Scott to mold the squad in their vision.
Wilder continued: “Cards on the table, I don’t think the owner would have brought me here to not back me, Neil Bausor or Kieran Scott for not bringing players in. I don’t think he would have brought me in to manage a mid-table football club. This certainly isn’t one.
“It has to be fighting at the top end of the division and when you fight there, you have to have good players and good players cost money, wages, fees. Steve knows that more than anybody.”
The Boro boss told media after their 1-1 draw with West Brom on the opening day of the season that they were closing in on a number of new signings and that deals were ‘down the line’. There is a hope that they will be registered in time for this weekend’s trip to Queens Park Rangers in the Championship. A loan move for Fulham frontman Rodrigo Muniz, who was a target for Boro last summer, is a deal that is in the pipeline.
Once Boro have got new signings through the door, they are willing to allow teenage striker Josh Coburn to leave on loan in order to pursue regular first-team football and further his development.