Owner Ron Gordon wants Hibs to join forces with Hearts and work together

Just as they have in every other derby match ever contested, Hibernian and Hearts will go toe-to-toe on Tuesday night, with each side determined to come out on top.

Hibs chairman Ron Gordon revealed that he has held meetings with his Hearts counterpart Ann Budge. Picture: SNS

Bragging rights as well as points are at stake and while Ron Gordon, the American-based owner of the Leith club, will lap up the passion and drama of the occasion and enjoys the footballing rivalry, he sees no reason why, away from the drama of matchday, the clubs can’t team up.

Celtic and Rangers ruled Scottish football as the Old Firm, while the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United temporarily shook things up in the 1980s and now it is the capital clubs who are buying into the theory of strength in numbers as they look to evolve and prosper.

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Targeting mutual benefits and recognising the added clout they command as a collaborative force, foundations are being laid for greater capital co-operation.

“That is absolutely something we are looking at,” said Gordon, who believes that while sporting rivalry can add to the occasion, it is “a shame” when they spill over into something more sinister.

“I have seen a little bit of it here and it doesn’t help the game at all. It is counterproductive, a little bit too primal; too tribal, and it is not good for the game. I like that people get passionate about the game and all that but it is only a game.

“I would like to work with Hearts. I have met three times with Ann [Budge, his Tynecastle counterpart] and her team. We took a team from Hibs to talk about areas where we could collaborate and I think there are several areas where we can work together.

“I know they are going through a difficult time so maybe this is not their focus but eventually, the fact we are in the same industry and can work together to improve this industry, improve the experience, this is interesting.

“From a business perspective we can work together on a variety of fronts, including some initiatives that I think will be really, really good. And it is one of the things I would like to explore more because if you put the two clubs together in terms of delivery of audience and users and digital and engagement, that is a big number.

“Together we would be all of Edinburgh football and I would love to see how we can keep separate and keep the rivalry but use the two platforms to offer something bigger and better.”

Having outlined a vision of his club playing in European competition every season and pushing deep into the domestic cup competitions, Gordon knows closing the gap on the teams above them will be 
tough.

Increasing turnover is one ambition, leading to a planned 50 per cent increase in the Easter Road club’s playing budget by 2023, but, coming from the USA, where fair play rules are in place to try to prevent financial chasms from forming within individual leagues and ensuring a greater distribution of titles and glory, he says he still finds it tough to get his head around the way economic disparity leaves things unfairly weighted towards certain clubs, while others start every season at a significant disadvantage.

“To answer the question about what I feel have been the biggest constraints [he has faced since assuming control of Hibs in July] that is probably the biggest. Football, world football, is a jungle. It’s survival of the fittest and from a capitalist perspective that is the way it is.

“But in the US, it would never ever cross anybody’s mind to have promotion and relegation. That would be absurd. No business guy would ever do that, invest in this knowing that you could get relegated and could be playing in South Cupcake, Iowa! That is not going to happen.”

It is said that for all the vast swathes of money spent in the NFL every year, the multi-millionaire and billionaire bosses, who count as some of the world’s biggest capitalists, have a socialist view when it comes to their sport.

“Exactly,” Gordon added. “That is exactly how it is and every league is protected and they work together and it is all about the league. You compete within that but there are all kinds of mechanisms to promote parity and so, if you finish in last place, you get to pick the best player first [next season].

“The TV money is distributed evenly but I don’t see that happening here. In football, the bigger clubs are getting bigger and the smaller clubs are struggling. I think if there is a way to bring a little bit more equity to the game then that would be good.

“A question when I first arrived was whether I wanted to be the best of the rest, and I think I answered that I want to compete for championships and at the end of the day that is what we are in it to do but, in reality, we do need to be the best of the rest before we can even begin to think about being able to compete. That is our first step.”

By joining forces with their capital foes, he believes they can edge closer to doing that.

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