HIBERNIAN chairman Rod Petrie says the club must “deliver” on the pitch after the Easter Road club posted their first annual profit since 2010.
Financial results for the year ending July 2013 show a pre-tax surplus of £100,000, halting two consecutive years of substantial losses – £1 million in 2012 and £900,000 in 2011.
Hibs have largely credited the upturn in finances to an improved performance in the Scottish Premier League last term, finishing seventh compared to 11th in the 2011/12 campaign.
Season ticket sales also rose from 7,000 to 8,000 and the modest profit posted, allied with scheduled loan repayments, have seen the capital club’s net debt fall from £6.4m to £5.5m.
Petrie has welcomed the figures which, he says, helped finance the club’s summer signing spree of ten players. But he acknowledges the club needs results on the field as well as on the balance sheet.
“We have brought in players who, by and large, have experience of the Premier League,” said Petrie, who has watched Hibs endure a sluggish start to the campaign. “They have bought into the vision here and we need to see that group of players deliver.”
Hibs’ turnover also shows a substantial improvement, with the club banking £8m over the course of the year – up from £6.9m for the year ending July 2012 – while cost-cutting has also been implemented.
The figures show that £200,000 has been shaved off staff costs, bringing the wage bill down to £3.9m. As a consequence, Hibs can boast their lowest wage-to-turnover ratio since 2007, reduced from 60 per cent to 49 per cent. But Petrie says the support of fans is what will ultimately “define” the club’s success.
“The ambition is to win, but the resource you have got will determine what you are able to put on the pitch and what you cannot. If we have more resource we will invest that resource,” he continued. “The success we have on the pitch is defined by the contribution supporters make from attending games and, particularly, by season ticket memberships which give that guaranteed core level of income that enables us to plan with a greater degree of certainty.”
He added: “There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, a lot of sacrifices made to get us back to break-even, that’s our objective every year. We took the actions that were necessary to maintain a control on costs and we’ve been able to see a slightly higher level of revenue primarily coming out of a slightly higher position in the league.
“Turnover is up, costs are down, we’ve achieved profitability on an operational level and the bottom line. Mortgages were repaid on the due date and we have made a small cash surplus on top of that, so all these things are positive.”
As city rivals Hearts battle for survival while in administration, Petrie continued: “The first objective is to achieve break-even to ensure the safety and security of the club so that future generations do not have to suffer the anguish and torment of whether their football club would fold and die.”
And Petrie confirmed the club tried to purchase last term’s talisman Leigh Griffiths for an “unheard of” transfer fee, before turning their attention to Ireland under-21 cap, James Collins, one of their ten summer arrivals for a reputed fee of £200,000.
“We genuinely tried to get an arrangement with Wolves to take Leigh on a permanent basis and that would have involved a transfer fee which is kind of unheard of in the last few years,” Petrie said. “When that proved impossible to do, the funds we’d put in place were transferred to the James Collins deal. I have not seen many other clubs in Scotland go out and spend a transfer fee in the last two or three years.”
Hibs have also announced that the club’s annual general meeting will take place at Easter Road on Tuesday 1 October, starting at 7pm.