Jump to content
oneBoro Forum
p_mards

Steve Gibson's stranglehold on scrutiny?

Recommended Posts

What are other people's views on how whether there is sufficient scrutiny on the Club internally and externally such as through the Evening Gazette and BBC Tees?. My post in the "Should Jonathan Woodgate be sacked?" thread generated discussion so maybe it's worthy of its own thread. I'll get the ball rolling below by adding a few more points.

Externally, I think it's pretty much a dictatorship with the Club's treatment of the Evening Gazette and BBC Tees over the years. We're teetering on the brink of relegation to League One after the appointment of Woodgate backfired as expected and is still in a job, yet there seems to have been next to no meaningful scrutiny. Based upon the clear imbalance between the squad at Woodgate's disposal vs our league position, we should be nowhere near the relegation zone. We're only here through sheer incompetence to 1.) appoint a useless manager and head of recruitment, and 2.) to continue to employ that useless manager (head of recruitment did the right thing and resigned - credit to Bevington for that). I completely don't blame the Evening Gazette sports team for their lack of scrutiny as they've got their hands tied behind their backs. They got their hands scolded after relegation from the Premier League when they became too critical of the team and undoubtedly have budget pressures so have to fall in line with the club as they simply can't afford to fall out with the Club. MFC had the power to bully the Evening Gazette into submission, but it shouldn't do so just because it has the power to. It's dirty tactics which reduces my opinion of Steve Gibson dramatically. Similarly, MFC having the BBC Tees Neil Maddison on the payroll is a massive conflict of interest, so he's never going to be impartial. Notably, Bernie Slaven was sacked from that role because he was too outspoken against MFC's failures. It's so obviously tainted.

Internally, the sound music from Pulis and Woodgate seems to be one of complacency as they have reassured us countless times that there are good policies now in place behind the scenes and that Steve Gibson knows what he is doing. We've heard lots of propaganda for years about "smashing the league", "the golden thread", how we've totally rejuvenated the recruitment policies etc. However, nothing has improved, and instead things have slowly and gradually got worse ever since Gibson regained full power during that messy January 2017 window. From the outside looking in, it seems like Gibson surrounds himself with "yes men" who aren't fit for their jobs, as emphasised by the appointments of Bevington and Woodgate. Given that culture, I can't imagine someone internal who scrutinised Gibson and co's decisions being particularly welcomed behind the scenes. I'm imagining they'd be sacked and thrown under the bus just how Karanka and Orta were after relegation from the Premier League. He took it to an unprofessional level with them personal attacks. It's from the political handbook of dirty tricks. I think Gibson should be absolutely ashamed of himself for doing that to a manager who got us promoted. Common decency and appreciation of his achievements with us should have prevailed. Again, just because you have the power to do something, it doesn't mean you should do it.

In my opinion, the lack of scrutiny internally and externally is contributing to the malaise that has maligned the club for the vast majority of the past decade. It makes me even less confident about our ability to turn things around. In the absence of genuine scrutiny from the local media, fans dismay can only be contained for so long. Before Gibson knows it he's going to come under some well deserved criticism when PR can't paper over the cracks any longer such as if we end up in League One. Maybe only then will he stop burying his head into the sand at any sort of scrutiny.

Edited by p_mards
  • Like 17

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding post.

When Sajid Javid resigned from Government, he said it was necessary to speak truth to power. That applies everywhere, including at MFC. And we can't rely on the usual agents to do so, for a combination of macro and micro reasons.

The Gazette is struggling to survive in the face of declining ad sales, and can't risk falling out with the club who probably underpin a good percentage of its circulation and site traffic (It's the only reason I ever visit the site). The BBC have destroyed their impartiality by employing someone who's also employed by the club. Sky are too craven to the footballing teat to report on the issues underpinning EFL clubs, when they could have two reporters covering someone farting at Liverpool. The likes of WSC do their best (in the interests of disclosure, I've written the odd article for them in my time), but there's far too many clubs in worse states than ours for MFC to get much of a look-in. And every ex-player who trots out the "best chairman in the land" schtick in the media is also guilty of blowing smoke up Gibson's a**e.

As fans, that inevitably leaves us largely in the dark about what decisions are/aren't being taken, and why. It also creates a cycle of mistrust where a lack of public statements breeds conspiracy theories and heightens criticism, which broadens the sense of a divide between club and fans (so entitled, never satisfied, always moaning, etc), and poisons the club against honesty or engagement. The chairman decides he can only trust his mates, lickspittles and locals. The gulf grows. Rinse, repeat.

This situation has been at least a decade in the making at Boro. And we as supporters have played our part in allowing the rot to take hold. Every time the South stand sing "Stevie Gibson is king", it reinforces the chairman's sense of entitlement and power, regardless of how pish the game/season/manager/squad is. Maybe after 35 years of such expressions of devotion, Steve Gibson actually believes he is a supreme ruler now. He increasingly runs the club as an oligarch might, dismissing potential threats to his popularity and demanding absolute power. Aitor found that out to his cost. If only he'd been born on Teesside, instead of in Spain, eh?

We fans can howl into the void all we want, wailing and gnashing our teeth, but nobody at MFC is listening anymore. Only one person's opinion matters now, and he seems quite content to provide jobs for the boys all the way to League One.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn’t a new phenomenon though. Gibson has become a typical dictator. Hides away from giving interviews, surrounds himself with sycophants, this is very much his comfort zone. More and more are questioning his record over recent years - which is diabolical.

if a wrong decision is to be made, Gibbo makes them. Scant regard for walk up fans his pricing policy has reduced this to a trickle. Season ticket sales are likely to see a significant downturn- where is the policy for getting new fans in?

Every aspect of the club is little short of total incompetence. 
 

Fans are treated with contempt- so much for being only custodian of the club.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post!

I think this is where alot of Boro fans are at now, we showed SG the respect he deserved for years but what you are saying about the media and the lack of transparency is so so true.  Nobody wants to be part of a corrupted organisation where the truth is never spoken of, the club in my opinion is destined for League 1 and that's that.  SG may well be happy with it.  JW running the team and all his mates being in the background.  It's seriously no way to run a multi million pound business.

Only way for it to work is to get rid of all the local boys and their ties to the club, let someone else run it or sell up and let someone else have a go.

It's truly shocking to see what we are now.  If we go down then so be it, I'll still support!  I'm not one to think we have the right to be somewhere we don't deserve to be.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Gazette and BBC Tees will scrutinize but only when it is to the benefit of Gibson and not to his detriment.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Smashing post but can you really blame the Gazette when I bet the magority of their readership are only interested in the Boro part of their media. The Boro are literally keeping the gazette going. With this type of stuff you do need to put your feet into their position if you were Maddo would you go and attack the club then be expelled no as you want a easy life. The issue we have is that Gibson does have full control and there is no one scrutinising or reviewing or even a sounding board for him to talk too. Like there needs to be an executive appointed that has worked at another club who can come with new ideas saying this was done at my previous club etc it worked well kinda thingy. Then the scouting department is simply far behind the times. The whole club just needs to undergo modernization and bring external people in who have new ideas.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hopefully whichever person Gibson gets to check the forum for him to get a sense of fan opinion - based upon what Downsouth said the other day - notice this discussion questioning Gibson’s unsuccessful and dictatorial leadership. It should be a clear message that he can use his power to strangle scrutiny from the local press like the Evening Gazette and BBC Tees, but he cannot avoid scrutiny from the fans who are seeing him for what he is. I’d hazard a guess that fans opinions of Gibson will be at an all time low, regardless of whether he sacks Woodgate or not. Him continuing to employ Woodgate just shows even more dissent to the fans. If our failing manager was from Germany or Spain, and not his mate Woodgate, he’d have been sacked long ago.

I was brought up seeing no wrong in Gibson for saving the Club from administration and the highs of the Carling Cup and Uefa Cup Final. However, I have lost the majority of respect that I had for him due to his countless mistakes when appointing people to senior positions, not moving with the times and him using his power and dirty tricks to avoid scrutiny. It’s unacceptable.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am confused by what is going on! I understand your sentiment and your arguments are very passionate. Ultimately though it is a private company and any scrutiny is completely internal, whether we like it or not.

 I dont disagree with your argument at all, especially as a paying customer, but ultimately Gibson has bankrolled the club and despite the fact there is no club without the fans he does seem to think that he is above scrutiny because of his investment. The counter argument is that he has always said that the club is the centrepiece of Teesside and he knows how important it can be for many people in the region. I find it confusing to be honest. I firmly believe he sees the club as a beacon for the community, yet from my fans view I am not sure what positives he is seeing at the moment. 


Maybe he is hurt, looking at his investment in the squad and how poor it is , in a way I cant blame him for that. But surely he must understand that most fans would go with him to the end of the earth if we could recognise his golden thread or club identity. Karanka brought an identity we could all associate with. 4231, hard to beat and if we scored first we usually won. It wasn’t expansive or particularly entertaining but we knew what we were getting. Most people knew what we would get with Pulis. Methodical, percentage football, yet effective. I realise a lot of people didn’t like what they saw, but it was a million miles better than what we have now. Maybe though he was getting paid a million times more than JW.

Judging the passion for the club on this board though, I would have thought that Gibson would realise that all we really want is competence in the dugout and an identity on the pitch. This is the paradox I do not get. The only person that can answer that is SG.
Due to work I am not a season ticket holder so maybe my questions don’t necessarily carry any real merit but surely it is not rocket science.  What is JW trying to do? Where is his style of play? How has he developed players? How Has Coulson gone from a left winger, to left back, to left wing back, back to left winger?  He could potentially be a Robertson from Liverpool if coached properly, but Woodgate cant do that, so he changes his position instead. Howson is a midfielder. If he thinks he thinks so much of him and wants him to sign a new contract why is Saville or Mcnair in front of him in midfield ?  There is nothing at all to show that Woodgate can build a team, a squad or a club. I work in the nhs and can see that. Most of the people on this board do not coach and can see that. And that is the worrying thing. Most of us can accept transition, regression even, in the hope that it is for the greater good, yet what we have now is neglect. None of us can ever accept that. When we fail to win on Monday I expect change. It should have happened by now. For me it is the last chance. If SG doesn’t care then why should I?

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, TAPOUT said:

I firmly believe he sees the club as a beacon for the community, yet from my fans view I am not sure what positives he is seeing at the moment. 

 

Yet he presides over a pricing structure which makes our walk-up tickets some of the most expensive in the division. As we keep getting reminded on this forum Middlesbrough is one of the most deprived areas in the country but we continue to price a lot of fans out of being able to come to the match.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Content Warning: Contrary opinions are contained within this post. 😬

To start, I really don't put too much credence into Neil Maddison being employed by the club and thus being unable to speak his mind at all. Questionable, sure, I guess I understand why someone would consider it a conflict of interest but I'm not convinced it is. I wouldn't consider it a definitive piece of evidence in proving the club is trying to control the message. There are perhaps better and ever so slightly more concrete examples of that and Maddo doesn't have to be even brought into this discussion. I've listened to pre-match stuff from both him and Mark Drury and Drury himself isn't really afraid of speaking his mind, he really didn't buy into the Morrison signing for example, he gave that a great deal of scrutiny. It would seem to be pointless only having Maddison stick to the club lingo if you're trying to dominate the journalistic landscape surrounding you.

Comparisons to Slaven are interesting, did he ever go hell for leather at managers or the owner whilst he was co-commentating? He spoke his mind, for sure, I wouldn't dispute that. I'm not sure he ever publicly attacked anyone though. As for being sacked, wasn't he only removed because of the switch from Century FM to BBC Tees? Ali Brownlee wasn't on the radio for a year or too either, it was Paul Addison and Gary Gill for a while. I looked it up and I can see he was sacked from Boro TV when he refused to turn up for filming because staff weren't getting paid? Nothing about being sacked from Century for speaking his mind, though. He never did co-commentary with BBC Tees after the switch, as I believe it was Hignett after Gill and before Maddison.

The Gazette thing, sure, there was a public faff on and we know there was a big slap on the wrist, some of the *** the club put out correcting fees that they would do their best to keep undisclosed otherwise was childish, the Gazette still can't seem to explain what happened though Gibson said it was something to do with an editor who is no longer there? Something like that. But back to the Gazette themselves, have they ever criticised any ownership before? Have they ever taken a manager to town whilst they've been employed? What are we expecting them to say, exactly? In judging whether they are losing their ability to speak their minds on people actively working at Middlesbrough FC, we have to ask if they ever have really done so to begin with. I'm not saying they have or haven't, but it's a question worth asking and I'm sure if it is the case then someone on here might be able to give examples.

Honestly, I don't think fan scrutiny stands up for much any more though. I think some of that comes from the idea that Woodgate talks about, when he talks about forums and call-ins, the most angry or disappointed are always the voices you hear and it's really true. And in the social media age, it's easier and easier for people to voice their opinions at the people responsible for their misery. Some people take it way too far and to get by in that position, you must have to disregard so much of the noise in general, not just when things are going wrong. This isn't just in football either, it's the same in my industry. So whilst I wouldn't say it's not significant at all that the club will ignore what is said about them, I will say football isn't alone and MFC certainly aren't alone in football in creating this shield against the noise of the social media generation. To some extent, it is required. Whatever positive effect the players and management get from this though is shrouded by the fact that there feels like a much bigger gap between the common fan and their club now more than ever. And do I think the club is making the most of it? Probably.

Would I call this a Steve Gibson stranglehold though? Hmm. I think he's benefiting from the distance between club and fan. He'll keep the prices up and his public appearances low so he's disconnected for sure. Is the public access to information regarding the club worse than it has ever been? I'm not so sure. I'm not convinced he's the mastermind behind anything right now. Football is moving on beyond him so I don't think that's a great indicator that he's got a firm grip on the information age. Will he ignore scrutiny? Sure, I wouldn't say that's a recent (last ~5 years) thing either. Controlling it? I don't know. I wouldn't consider Bausor, Kenyon or even Bevington to be the Dominic Cummings of this operation and I sure as hell wouldn't expect him to be controlling a communications blackout. He's a football club chairman, not Cersei Lannister.

  • Like 1
  • Angry 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to quote your whole post Wilson because it will take up a whole page, but this reply is meant for you. 

I think it was quite clear a few years ago that the 2 gazette reporters were told that they were not welcome anymore at the Riverside, I think the Gazette stayed away from the ground completely while the standoff was taking place. 

As for Slaven I remember he used to drive me mad with his negativity on the radio and it felt totally unnecessary. I know you'll think it's a bit rich me calling someone else negative but Slaven was doing this while we were playing in europe and in the top half of the Premier league. In his defence he has said more recently that he tried to counter balance Ali's rose tinted opinions and even if I didn't agree with Bernie it was his opinion after all. 

I'm sure I remember Slaven on the 3 legends phone in talk regularly about not being welcome at the Riverside and I'm pretty sure that it was down to his perceived negativity towards the club. It's not a good look for the club when the media are being banned from the ground.

As for Maddo I think his situation is a bit more innocent. He strikes me as an optimist at heart so I don't think he'd be slating the club even if he wasn't employed by it. 

I don't think Gibson is Kim Jong Un but I do think that the club don't take criticism well from the local press. I know for a fact that some of the local journos have been invited by the club to parties involving players, staff and chairman in the past and it does feel like the Gazette are in the clubs pocket. 

Is it unfair to expect the Gazette reporters to risk their jobs and club privileges by criticising the club? I'm not sure, I can understand them wanting a nice easy life but as an outsider I don't see the likes of Vickers and Tallantire as having any integrity as journalists if they are afraid to ask challenging questions.  

I think the Gazette could still write articles questioning the direction of the club without being disrespectful.

Edited by Duvel
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent opening post.

I have never made any secret over the years of my contempt for Gibson and his ways,even on the old EG forum before I came on here I was always digging at the bugger and his Nazi ways of running people's lives that work for him.

Like you said Slaven did not hold with this and he was sacked and banned.

All managers after McClaren apart from AK have allowed him a free hand in buying n selling and they have just become his finger puppets. AK was his own man and you saw that by the players that were brought in some expensive ones at that and he refused to give them game time including Downing which was the final straw and Gibbo go rid. Maddo and Mark the commentators will never say a bad word about Boro that might offend Gibson and get them sacked.

Also that is one of the reasons why we will never get a decent manager at the MFC .

That is why we have to hope for a miracle and that Woodgate starts reading football books soon on various tactics and systems and training players,because so far he ain't shown any of that in my books.

We may survive the drop yet but like I say it has to be a miracle because it certainly will not come from Gibson or Woodgate.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, p_mards said:

Hopefully whichever person Gibson gets to check the forum for him to get a sense of fan opinion - based upon what Downsouth said the other day - notice this discussion questioning Gibson’s unsuccessful and dictatorial leadership. It should be a clear message that he can use his power to strangle scrutiny from the local press like the Evening Gazette and BBC Tees, but he cannot avoid scrutiny from the fans who are seeing him for what he is. I’d hazard a guess that fans opinions of Gibson will be at an all time low, regardless of whether he sacks Woodgate or not. Him continuing to employ Woodgate just shows even more dissent to the fans. If our failing manager was from Germany or Spain, and not his mate Woodgate, he’d have been sacked long ago.

I was brought up seeing no wrong in Gibson for saving the Club from administration and the highs of the Carling Cup and Uefa Cup Final. However, I have lost the majority of respect that I had for him due to his countless mistakes when appointing people to senior positions, not moving with the times and him using his power and dirty tricks to avoid scrutiny. It’s unacceptable.

I would imagine when the curtains are opened in the morning and he asks the person who gets to check the forums for him to get a sense of fan opinion he is told that the sun is shining and that fans all love you. They are all fully behind your appointed Manager and are looking forward to League One football next season Supreme Leader. Shall I let the Gazette lads and the BBC boys out for some daylight and exercise now or should we keep them in the "confinement suite" for just a little longer? The Tees lot are a little trickier but those new electrodes should help with a positive outlook on their phone ins. By the way I wrote the match reports for the Forest game just as you dictated, sorry asked, and I will hand it over to them for publishing on Monday night when we have another joyous victory to celebrate. Its a good job you don't go these days as the love and joy is simply resplendent at the Riverside with victory after triumphant victory, it would be simply too overpoweringly humbling for you.  In the meantime we have instructed the Teesside public that the League tables are lying and not to concern themselves. All in all its a truly wonderful day and our early bird Season Cards are all sold out.

  • Like 2
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Duvel said:

Yet he presides over a pricing structure which makes our walk-up tickets some of the most expensive in the division. As we keep getting reminded on this forum Middlesbrough is one of the most deprived areas in the country but we continue to price a lot of fans out of being able to come to the match.

 

I know. There are so many contradictions in what I wrote and in the way the club is at present. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really well-argued post @wilsoncgp. Your point about social media is particularly true - I migrated to this board from another Boro forum where the wailing and gnashing of teeth was always much more definitive. After a couple of defeats, there'd be loads of thread titles like "Worst team EVER", "I am DONE with this **** and the **** players", "We're finished", etc etc. No wonder football chairmen try to tune that out. Look at that open letter Arsenal fans wrote last year cos the poor lambs had only won the FA Cup recently.

Even so, Gibson's actions increasingly remind me of Erich Honecker and the East German politicians, hidden from view in their luxury gated village while Communism collapsed outside the walls. It's like he either can't admit or doesn't want to know how bad things are. Neither did Honecker, and we all know how that turned out.

Empires end when the people grow tired of being ignored and disrespected, and I think Gibson has used up most of the pre-2006 goodwill he'd amassed among supporters. FWIW, I don't want him to step down. I doubt anyone does, really. Most fans probably just want him to move with the times (a DoF, taking inspiration and lessons from other successful Championship clubs, employing a manager who's not a mate or a local). Our most successful post-2006 spell came when he loosened the shackles with Karanka and Orta. Is it any wonder fans yearn for more of that?

If SG can't - or more probably won't - move towards the light, maybe he does need to step aside for the sake of the club he and we love?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Latest Posts

    • To be fair, all of the players who we have been linked with so far make sense. I don’t think we’ll see many mercenaries come to Boro for a pay day, which I’m pleased about.    Touch wood; all the signs seem positive so far in terms of who we’ve been linked with 
    • Ashley Fletcher. The fact he’s overcome so much pressure and “down moments” with us, yet he has still come out stronger on the other side is really admirable. I think that’s a very under rated quality for a footballer to have. I bloody love it seeing him play with confidence and his hard work paying off. Go on LAD!
    • Fletcher.  I honestly think he is our best striker now.  He had a difficult start here, with fans on his back because of his price tag, but has persevered and developed despite all the inadequacies in our coaching set up.  I really like how he and Tav link up.  I am looking forward to seeing how he develops under a manager who knows how to coach players and inspire confidence in them.  
    • To be honest I find it difficult to pick a favourite out as we are at a stage where we have no consistently outstanding players though many are very capable in flashes...I like Johnson going forwards but he terrifies me near our penalty area...Fletch is improving all the time and with a partner that would pass to him, he could improve a lot more...Tav is beginning to show his potential ...but agree with Blanco, Saville very underrated and reminds me a lot of Mustoe...so probably one of those three depending on the game...."deep rums".?..I'll have one of those 
    • Friend also for sentimental reasons. I have a soft spot for Dijksteel  for reasons unbeknown to even myself and want him to do well. I really liked Ayala as I felt much more confident in our defence when he was a part of it but the way he departed left a bad taste. My favourite player growing up, despite my username, was actually Gianluca Festa. I like players who play in a way which shows that they care about this club as much as we fans do. Festa did that. There been more since him, George being one of them. His legs have gone but I know he gives a sh*t about this club just as much as the rest of us do.
×
×
  • Create New...