HIBS chairman Rod Petrie today issued a “call to arms” to lapsed supporters after the club posted a financial loss for the second year running.
Turnover for the year 2011/12 (31 July-31 July) was £6.9m (down £0.1m), while the loss before taxation was unchanged from the previous year at £0.9m.
The figures relate to a season when Hibs battled relegation for the second year running, while also changing manager again, with Pat Fenlon replacing Colin Calderwood. There were no notable player sales, although the run to the Scottish Cup final did help boost the club’s finances. Club chiefs, however, are far from alarmed by the club’s overall financial predicament, and Petrie insisted that, if Hibs could get their average attendances back up to the 12,000 mark, they would be in a strong position to prosper at a time when many clubs in Scottish football are battling to make ends meet.
Already buoyed by an excellent start to the current season under Fenlon, which has seen crowds at Easter Road creep back up above the 10,000 mark, Petrie senses the club are heading in the right direction again.
However, with gate money considered the biggest factor in determining the club’s annual budget, Hibs revealed a desire to grow attendances by around 2000 per home game from present levels.
“Every season we need the positive engagement and financial contribution by supporters to provide an annual budget,” said Petrie in a letter to shareholders. “That was hard during 2011-12 and the financial statements show that the club sustained a bottom line loss for the year for only the second time in eight years. Trading income benefitted from the club’s run to the Scottish Cup final. That augmented the lower levels of income from a second poor season of playing performances.
“The club apologised to supporters for the manner of the defeat in the Scottish Cup Final in May. The luck of the draw means that we have the chance to avenge that defeat in our first tie in the Scottish Cup this season. Performances on the pitch have improved dramatically following the major overhaul of the playing squad by the manager in the close season. Better performances have seen a steady rise in SPL attendances at Easter Road Stadium. Each game has seen more
Hibernian supporters attend the match than attended the previous match. Just over 10,000 Hibernian supporters attended the last home game against Dundee United. We want to continue that progression and get back to average attendances of over 12,000 spectators.
“More gate income means more flexibility for the manager as he continues to re-vitalise our club. Please do what you can, if you can, to help rebuild attendances.”
Among the other notable figures, Hibs’ staff costs were reduced by £0.7m to £4.1m. This resulted in a wages-to-turnover ratio of 60 per cent, down from 69 per cent for the previous year.
The club’s debt, which has increased from £5.9m to just over six million, is described as “long-term” and “structured” and is causing no concern for the Hibs board. All shareholders were today due to receive a copy of the full financial results ahead of the club’s AGM on December 10.