The Hibs board have announced that a new share issue is to be launched in the hope that supporters can secure up to 51% of shares in the club – effectively becoming majority shareholders in the Easter Road side.
It means that existing shareholders, including the holding company, will see their percentage of ownership reduced.
In another welcome piece of news sandwiched between their 4-0 thumping of Rangers and the upcoming New Year’s derby against Hearts, it was also declared that the Easter Road side are now free of bank debt, after an agreement was made with Bank of Scotland.
New loans were taken out by the holding company to the club and payment was made to the bank to clear off the debt, meaning that debt owed is only to the holding company.
A statement on the official Hibernian website, read: “The Club is pleased to confirm that it has agreed a settlement with Bank of Scotland and that the Club is now free of Bank debt. That settlement was funded by new loans provided by the holding company to the Club and by a payment made direct to the Bank. The fixed securities held by the Bank over Easter Road Stadium and the Hibernian Training Centre have been released.
“Following the settlement with the Bank, the holding company has agreed to halve the Club’s debt by converting £4.5 million of loans into new ordinary shares in the Club. A formal written resolution to give effect to this will be sent to shareholders with the papers for the AGM. The remaining loans will be refinanced as a single £5m mortgage provided by the holding company on terms acceptable to the Club.”
Club chairman Rod Petrie, who had been under huge pressure from disgruntled Hibs fans last season and over the summer, added: “The environment of Scottish football is changing including a working group set up by the Scottish Government to look at supporter involvement with football clubs. After extensive consultations with supporters we have decided on the Hibernian Way, the right way forward for Hibernian Football Club.
“Supporters will have the opportunity to contribute directly to their Club. The more supporters contribute then the more of the Club they will own. And by owning the Club they will also own Easter Road Stadium and the Training Centre and the cash they raise.”
Chief Executive Leeann Dempster, praised the plan calling it ‘daring’ and ‘radical’, she said: “The Board’s plan is radical, a real first in Scottish football. I think it’s daring, exciting and we now need all supporters to rally behind the plan and take the Club forward on a united footing. The opportunity exists, and now it’s up to all of us to take it and make it work.
“Supporters should not lose sight of the fact that the one thing they can always do to support the Club in its ambitions is to come along to games and support the team – through buying Season Tickets, through walk-up and through buying merchandise from the club store.
“Hibernian supporters are rightly proud of the Club and its history, and I want to assure them that the plans we have will make them even prouder in future.”
What are your thoughts on the Hibernian board’s proposal?