Despite interest from China, Middlesbrough Football Club is not for sale, with long-standing owner-chairman Steve Gibson uninterested in sharing power at the Premier League club.
There had been press and social media speculation of a £50m bid from a Chinese company to take a stake at the Riverside Stadium.
However, club sources insist Gibson will retain 100% control, having been chairman since succeeding Colin Henderson in Decemer 1993.
Gibson, who is also chairman of Middlesbrough firm Bulkhaul, is understood to be sole shareholder at the club as part of the Gibson-O’Neill Group which he co-owns with long-time business partner Mike O’Neill.
The Gibson-O’Neill Group also includes Bulkhaul and Rockliffe Hall Hotel in Hurworth, alongside the club’s swanky training facility on the banks of the River Tees.
Representatives of an unnamed Chinese firm are reported to have spent time at Rockliffe Park and the Riverside Stadium over recent months.
It is understood they were on Teesside to discuss potential business ventures. Reports suggest they subsequently made a bid to buy the club.
However, senior club sources insist Boro are not for sale and never have been since Gibson took control more than 23 years ago.
Middlesbrough are one of the few major English clubs not to change ownership in recent years, with many now controlled by overseas investors.
They are also one of the few major outfits in this country to still be British owned.
Lifelong supporter Gibson became the club’s youngest ever board member, aged 26, in 1984, at the invitation of then chairman Mike McCullagh.
The club went into liquidation in 1986 and Gibson was instrumental in putting together a business consortium featuring ICI, Scottish and Newcastle Breweries and businessman Henry Moszcowicz that gave the club a new lease of life.
On becoming chairman in 1993, he convinced former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson to become the club’s manager.
After winning promotion under Robbo, the club spent 13 of the next 14 years in the top flight.
Gibson also masterminded the building of the Riverside Stadium in 1995, at the time the biggest football stadium built in the UK for 60 years.
The club also developed the state-of-the-art Rockliffe Park training complex.
On field achievements have included two Wembley cup finals in 1997, another in 1998, the 2004 Carling Cup victory and two successive seasons of European football culminating in the 2006 UEFA Cup final in Eindhoven.
More recently Gibson was awarded an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to economy, sport and the community, while he was also voted the Most Influential Businessman on Teesside in an exclusive Tees Business poll.