THE businessman heading a projected £3.5 million bid for Hibernian has claimed he has received encouragement from within the Easter Road club to make an offer.
David Low, who was involved in Fergus McCann’s takeover of Celtic in 1994, has turned his attentions to Hibs, despite being a self-confessed Celtic supporter.
The investment analyst explains his desire to become involved in the Easter Road club stems partly from a six-year stint of living in the city while working in Edinburgh. However, the deciding factor came when “a couple of friends” approached him about a plan to mount a takeover.
Relegation from the Premiership in May and dissatisfaction with the stewardship of chairman Rod Petrie combined with 74-year-old owner Sir Tom Farmer’s advancing yearsappears to have stirred up interest from a number of parties in taking over at Easter Road.
Forever Hibernian, the supporters’ group led by former player Paul Kane, have also approached Farmer in an attempt to assume at least a 51 per cent majority shareholding in HTC Holdings Ltd, the club’s parent company, for the fans. Sources at the club have indicated that such offers are not being encouraged but, during an online interview with The Scottish Football Monitor, Low claims Farmer now “wants” to sell the club. Low also outlined why he wishes to become involved at the Easter Road club after his high-profile links with Celtic in the past.
“Hibs are a good club and I think now we have a financial level playing field in Scottish game for the first time in a generation. It is a fantastic opportunity for a well-run football club to challenge for honours and take Celtic on,” he said.
“The field is open for a well-managed, well-financed club to do that and we see Hibs doing that. That is why the group I am involved in have made this offer to Tom Farmer, or Sir Tom Farmer as he is properly called, because we understand he wants to sell the club,” said Low.
Asked to reveal the names of those involved in his consortium, he mentioned himself and Ralph Lynch, his business partner in the States. Lynch is the son of Frank Lynch, the former owner of Carlisle-based Celtic Nation FC who has already been linked to the group. Former Hibs chairman Malcolm McPherson has also been mentioned in connection with Low’s consortium.
“There are a number of other investors both here in the UK and in the United States,” said Low. “I am not going to give the names of these people just now unless our offer is accepted and the offer looks as though it will proceed.
“At that point everyone involved in the consortium will have their details released. There will be absolute transparency.” Low expanded on why he believes Hibs would be a good investment at this time. Although the club are currently in the Championship, he backed them to again challenge for major honours.
“Clubs have to live within their means and that basically means if you are a larger club with a larger support you are going to have more money than a smaller club with a smaller support,” he said.
“That’s going to cap the amount of money you can spend on your team, it’s not going to be distorted by debt. Everybody knows who the larger teams are. Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, Dundee United – all of these clubs are capable, if they understand this new environment and they get the right people in the right positions, of challenging Celtic.
“Celtic are in a financial league of their own, I must say, they are ten times bigger financially than more or less all the teams. But, unfortunately from a Celtic point of view, they will move down towards the average and the other teams I’ve just referred to will move up.
“So, it’s going to be easier for a team like Hibs to challenge for trophies if they are managed properly and accept this new environment.”
If they were to be successful in their buy-out, Low confirmed that his consortium intends to “involve fans in a meaningful manner” in both ownership and the running of the club.
“If our offer does not have the support of Hibernian’s fans it will be withdrawn,” said Low. “In this new environment of a debt-free and financially level playing field, a football club can only prosper if there is trust and transparency and the board has the support of the club’s fans.”
Low indicated that he did not expect “any early resolution” to any takeover attempt.