Following talks in the north-east, Steve Gibson has reportedly rejected an offer of around £50m from a Chinese-American billionaire consortium for his beloved Middlesbrough.

IBTimes UK understands that Gibson insisted Middlesbrough football club was "not for sale". Middlesbrough are one of the very few 'major' English clubs not to change ownerships over the past decade or so, with West Bromwich Albion the most recent club to complete a deal with Chinese investors. The Teesiders are also one of the few top-flight clubs to still remain British-owned.

Chinese businessman Chien Lee, who owns French club Nice, and his representatives have been guests of the club on two separate occasions this season and had dinner with Gibson and his consultant Peter Kenyon at Rockliffe Hall on 16 October.

But Gibson, who joined the board as the club's youngest director at 26, has dismissed an offer from Lee to acquire a 50% stake in the club.

With Middlesborough now back in the big time after a seven-year absence, it is no wonder they are attracting suitors from all over the world. Chien Lee also had a conversation with neighbours Sunderland but they do not believe having a foreign investor to be an attractive proposition right now - even with owner Ellis Short looking to sell.

Mr. Lee is the co-founder of the Plateno Hotels Group, which merged with Jin Jiang International in 2015 to create the largest hotel network in China and the fifth-largest in the world.

Over the past year, however, he has branched into football and now owns an 80% stake in Nice along with Conway and Alex Zheng.