BUYHIBS, the group which plans to lead a fans’ takeover of the Easter Road club, has added its voice to the criticism of the share-purchase scheme announced last week.
Earlier this week, campaign group Hands On Hibs came out against the scheme, arguing that the aim of the newly-created Hibernian Supporters Limited (HSL), to buy 51 per cent of the shares in the club, did not amount to genuine community ownership. Yesterday BuyHibs said key aspects of the HSL scheme remained unclear, and urged Hibs owner Sir Tom Farmer and chairman Rod Petrie to accept that a real takeover by the fans should be independent of the club. HSL was launched at Easter Road by Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster.
In a statement released yesterday, BuyHibs said that HSL chairman Kenny MacAskill MSP had been unable to answer several questions about how the new group would work, and urged the club to explain how its mortgage with its holding company would be repaid. “At a meeting on Monday, BuyHibs asked a number of questions relating to the workings and finer details of HSL, most of which Mr MacAskill was unable to answer,” the statement said. “Kenny admitted that this was not a great deal but it was the only one on offer as this was the ‘direction of travel’ that Sir Tom Farmer and Rod Petrie have decided to go down.
“We were informed by [him] that it had been a hectic three or four weeks putting the HSL proposal together. We would urge the owners to urgently rethink this proposal as our future deserves more than a rush job. It should be fully independent from the club. The future of Hibernian must be for the benefit of the fans, not imposed on the fans yet again.”
Following negotiations last month, Hibs are now in debt to their holding company, not the bank. But BuyHibs added that information about how the debt will be repaid had not been forthcoming. “During November and December 2014 in face-to-face meetings with other Hibs fans, BuyHibs were unable to answer many questions posed as the answers were wholly dependent on the price being asked by the owners for the football club. This answer is now known to be £10 million, made up of £5m in equity and £5m of debt now owed to the owners and not the bank in the form of a mortgage.
“However, debt is debt and must be repaid. What has not been particularly clear is what will the money be invested into, what is sporting ambition and how is the debt to be repaid?”