As a lifelong Hibs supporter, I fear there’s a massive misalignment of ambitions between the majority of Hibs fans and the current owner and chairman.
I don’t know the man, but what I hear of Tom Farmer is that he has a long and deep connection with Leith and, back in the Nineties he saved Hibs from being swallowed-up by Wallace Mercer because he wanted it to remain as part of the Leith community. Lamentably, he has no real passion for football, and the limit of his ambition seems to be to guarantee the club continues for future generations of supporters.
Petrie too, has done a grand job of ensuring this: Hibs don’t spend beyond their means. It’s a business and, as an accountant, Petrie looks through most things with his eyes on the balance sheet. No surprise then that Sir Farmer backs his man at the AGM, because he’s doing exactly what his boss asks of him.
What’s wrong with that, then? Nothing, if what you want is to just keep going.
But a sizable part of that Leith community are eschewing Easter Road in preference for – well, whatever they do of a Saturday afternoon. It may be partly down to how much it now costs to go to the football, but, more likely it’s to do with what’s happening on the park. The “product” part of the business is in meltdown: player quality at a low (I can only speak for the past twenty years); youth development has dried up; there’s a palpable lack of endeavour and drive. Little wonder, then, that once loyal Hibees are leaving in ever-growing numbers. Hibs supporters need change, because this decline has been going on for years.
In his article in support of Rod Petrie (Saturday 12 November), Glenn Gibbons’ contention is that this is down to the under-performance of managers that have been appointed (with rare exceptions such as Tony Mowbray). I disagree.
This is a result of a board and, more importantly, an owner who are as risk adverse as it’s possible to get in any business, never mind football. We have an owner with no passion for the game who has appointed a board with little ambition for the football-playing part of their business. The result? Managers appointed on the cheap, and when they do have ambition (Collins) they are not backed. Strict wage structures, tight budgets, reduced playing staff, scouting and youth development on the wain.
I wonder where Hibs would be now if Sir Tom had applied the same drive and ambition he must have had in the early days of Kwik Fit to his tenure at Easter Road? Think of how Fergus McCann transformed Celtic.
So, to those who are going after Petrie’s head, I say you’re gunning for the wrong man.
Sir Tom Farmer, thank-you for what you’ve done to keep us in business. But, keeping going is not enough. It’s now time for you to step aside. Perhaps it’s long-past time. It’s time for someone with passion to run the club. Someone who’s willing to take a risk (not just financially) to improve the end product for all Hibees who want to see us playing like the team we should be.