TWO separate proposals have been put before Hibernian to buy out owner Sir Tom Farmer and take control of the club, it emerged last night.
The Forever Hibernian group, headed by former player Paul Kane, has entered into negotiations, proposing a model of 51 per cent fan membership and 49 per cent investment.
But the pressure group, which was formed in wake of Hibs’ relegation from the Premiership last season and fuelled by a dissatisfaction with the role of chairman Rod Petrie, is not the only group actively trying to buy out Farmer. A consortium has stepped forward and is understood to include former chairman Malcolm McPherson, and businessmen Frank Lynch and David Low – the latter a key figure in developing the strategy which enabled Fergus McCann to take over Celtic in 1994.
Farmer became owner of Hibs in 1991 when he saved the club from a hostile takeover bid headed by the late Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer.
Petrie is Farmer’s eyes and ears at the club and has withstood widespread demands from fans to step down after years of on-field decline culminated in the club’s relegation in May to the Championship. Hibs will play their first match of the new season against Livingston today.
In a separate development, Scott Fraser – of former Hibs shirt sponsors McEwan Fraser – has written a passionate opinion piece in today’s Scotsman Sport section, in which he argues that the club can only truly win the trust of fans again by removing Petrie from the boardroom.
New chief executive Leeann Dempster arrived at Hibernian from Motherwell in June, and has already enjoyed a degree of success in engaging with fans and the community, but Fraser argues that Petrie must carry the can for years of underachievement on the pitch. Manager Terry Butcher was sacked and replaced by Alan Stubbs in the wake of relegation and Fraser insists Petrie should be next to go.