Middlesbrough will plunge themselves into controversy tomorrow when they unveil Gareth Southgate as their new manager.
The Teessiders have called a press conference at the Riverside Stadium for 2pm “regarding England-bound Steve McClaren’s successor as Middlesbrough manager” at which it is understood they will confirm the 35-year-old’s appointment even though he does not have the necessary UEFA Pro Licence.
FA Premier League rules state that anyone without the Pro Licence can only take charge of a club for 12 weeks, although the 20 club chairmen who make up the league's shareholders voted to waive them last month to allow Glenn Roeder to be appointed at Newcastle because of the unique and extenuating circumstances of his case.
Boro chairman Steve Gibson has actively been canvassing his counterparts in recent days despite stern resistance from the League Managers’ Association, who also vehemently opposed Roeder’s application for dispensation.
Gibson remains confident that a precedent has been set by that case, and is determined to fight all the way to get the man he wants, although the battle could be long and hard.
Gibson set out his arguments – which also include Southgate’s record of service, his inability to acquire all his coaching qualifications because of his international career and the club’s willingness to allow McClaren to take up the England job despite signing a long-term contract – this morning.
Tonight, chief executive Keith Lamb took up the baton, telling the club’s official website, www.mfc.co.uk: “Middlesbrough and Gareth should not suffer because he has had such a successful career at club and international level.
“Until recently Gareth has spent his summers serving his country as a player. It makes little sense that such players should be denied rare opportunities like the one he now has simply because he hasn’t had the chance to gain the qualifications.
“Why not allow players of such ilk the chance to gain their badges while doing the job rather than making them wait?
“It is no coincidence that many of the current crop of good young managers did not actually play at the highest level, so were able to concentrate on gaining coaching qualifications while many top stars were playing for their country.
“If that continues, the natural conclusion is that most top British managers will have no experience of international football.”
Boro had not made a formal approach to the Premier League – who rejected Newcastle’s initial application but then referred it to the chairmen – by this afternoon.
But whatever happens, the LMA are sure to have their say once again.
Chief executive John Barnwell, who accused Newcastle of opening the door to “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker” by appointing Roeder, already having reiterated his stance.
He told the LMA’s official website, www.leaguemanagers.com: “I would reiterate that this is not an LMA matter, it is a UEFA directive and an FA Premier League rule.
“We believe that it is up to the FA and the Premier League to maintain the agreed qualification standards.”
Newcastle pleaded for a relaxation of the rules on the grounds that Roeder was already an experienced manager and engaged on the Pro Licence course when he was struck down by a brain tumour in 2003.
Gibson turned to Southgate, who won 57 caps for England, after talks with Terry Venables, Martin O’Neill and Alan Curbishley failed to bear fruit.
He recently vowed to keep the likes of Southgate, Colin Cooper and Ugo Ehiogu on board after their playing careers.
Southgate has made no secret of his desire to go into management one day, although he had intended to see out the final year of his current playing contract before changing focus.
Meanwhile, Boro’s bid to sign German international defender Robert Huth has been boosted by Newcastle’s confirmation that their interest in the 21-year-old Chelsea man is at an end.
The Magpies have watched Huth for some time, but will not be making a bid, and with Boro having apparently priced Wigan and Aston Villa out of the market with a lucrative contract, they hope to complete soon.
The player’s agent Manfred Schulte, when asked by PA Sport if it was still their intention to secure his future before the start of the World Cup finals, replied: “This is our intention.”
However, Schulte was giving little else away.
“It’s just speculation at this stage,” he said.
“We would like to confirm nothing. We are people who will talk when we are ready and not before.”