IT IS more than ten months since Keith Lamb brought a quarter of a century as Middlesbrough's chief executive to an end, holding satisfaction his beloved club was left in a far greater state than how he found it.

Now, as a high profile member of the Football Association's board, Lamb has made it one of his targets to make sure other boardrooms around the country display a similar responsibility towards running their clubs.

At a time when Darlington's future remains clouded in uncertainty, Portsmouth wonder what is happening from one day to the next and question marks surround so many clubs' finances, the FA are aware things need to change.

And Lamb, who worked hard to reduce the wage budget and expenditure during his final few years at the Riverside Stadium, is wary that the worries hanging over so many clubs could deteriorate further before things improve.

"I am spending a lot of time trying to make sure clubs can weather the storm," said Lamb, one of the key movers in Middlesbrough when they emerged from liquidation in 1986. "Like Darlington, a lot of clubs and players are going to find themselves in really difficult circumstances over the next two years.

"There will be a lot of players at the end of the season looking for a new job. The rich are getting richer but the poor are struggling. Football has to cut its cloth accordingly. Players' salaries are excessive. Who would have thought players would be on £250,000 a week. Frightening.

"We are working hard on financial fair play, trying to make sure clubs live within their means. Not to stifle ambition, just to make sure that the clubs are here for the town they represent."

Lamb was heavily involved in the early 90s when the battle for television rights took place, which ultimately paved the way for the excessive over-spending and the dramatic increase in players' wages.

"It frustrates me as a football fan," said Lamb. "I have often asked, why is it that we have just gone through a period where there has been more money in football than ever before, so why are so many bankrupt? Except for the players!

"Middlesbrough was one of the founder members of the Premier League, we had just got promoted. Two years after that, when we were in the Premier League, we had the fateful day of choosing between Sky and ITV.

"It was a battle between Alan Sugar and David Dein. One thing Sugar said afterwards, he called it the 'Prune Juice Effect'. What he meant by that was that all the money was going straight through the clubs and in to the players' pockets. He was adamant that shouldn't happen. Noone ever listened to him."

Together with chairman Steve Gibson, Lamb helped Middlesbrough to become a main player in the Premier League, also investing heavily in players' contracts, such as Fabrizio Ravanelli, Alen Boksic and Tuncay Sanli.

Such times seem far removed now, with Middlesbrough looking to end a few years in the Championship on far tighter budgets.

"25 years as chief executive was enough of a sentence for anyone. I didn't get off for good behaviour!" joked Lamb, who stepped down in May last year. "Things move on. I am proud of what I did here.

"If you put the good days and bad days together, I think I had more good than bad. What will I be remember for? Hopefully for producing the Riverside Stadium and bringing in Bryan Robson. Those two ingredients were the catalyst to take this club forward to what it is now."

Tonight's Tees-Wear derby in the FA Cup replay with Sunderland is likely to have approaching 30,000 supporters watching it, which is a significant improvement on the average of around 15,000 this season.

And Lamb said: "By persevering with Tony Mowbray, let him to produce a good football team, the fans will come back regularly.

"Tony wants to play football and he will be successful here, make no mistake about that. He will produce a team that the town is proud of and will be the envy of others because of the way he plays football."