HANDS On Hibs has come out against the share-buying scheme launched last week by the club, arguing that it does not represent a move to genuine community ownership.
The campaign group has written to Hibernian owner Sir Tom Farmer to tell him of its decision, and has urged him to become involved in negotiations rather than leave the process to chairman Rod Petrie and chief executive Leeann Dempster, among others.
Last week, Dempster launched Hibernian Supporters Limited (HSL), a body that aims to raise up to £2.5 million from fans to buy shares in Hibs.
A full subscription would give HSL 51 per cent of the shares in the club, which the new body says would represent majority control by supporters.
But, in a statement on its Facebook page yesterday, Hands On Hibs said the new proposals lacked transparency, and focused, in particular, on the debt owed by the football club to its holding company.
“Last Friday, Hands On Hibs met with the board of HSL,” the statement said. “It was confirmed that no details of the £5m debt to the holding company [Farmer/Petrie] would be made available to supporters.
“HOH reiterate our position that, without total transparency, no fans should donate to this scheme.
“The argument that Hibs fans should donate money to this scheme just because we are fans is spurious. Manipulating the emotional ties supporters have with Hibernian is wrong. ”
Calling on Sir Tom to become personally involved, the statement continued: “Presenting the Farmer/Petrie proposals as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition is a serious error on the part of the owner and the board. Hands On Hibs remain convinced the only way to achieve unity between the supporters and the club is for Tom Farmer to personally intervene in this change process.
“The Farmer/Petrie proposals do not represent community ownership or a realistic beginning in that journey.
“We reject the arguments of HSL that this might not be a good deal but it is the only deal available. Hands On Hibs will not accept a bad deal for Hibs supporters.”
Hibs’ plan will see the creation of new shares, diluting current shareholdings. The sale of new shares aims to raise £2.5 million.
The club responded last night by insisting money raised by HSL would help the team.
“The club has been transparent about the arrangements since the announcement on 29 December,” a statement said. “Club debt has been halved and the club has no bank debt. The remaining loans are being refinanced by a mortgage.
“The club is issuing new shares to supporters so that all money raised goes directly into the club to fund sporting ambition and not to buy shares from existing shareholders.”