Leeann Dempster: Fans’ cash will strengthen side

HIBERNIAN chief executive Leeann Dempster has rejectedsuggestions that money raised through a supporter ownership scheme will go to Sir Tom Farmer and Rod Petrie.

Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Fans are being asked to subscribe to a £2.5 million share issue which will see parent company HFC Holding’s Ltd hand over a controlling 51 per cent stake. Dempster has ­previously said that any money taken in would solely fund Hibs’ “sporting ambition”.

But two fans groups, Hands on Hibs and Buy Hibs, have voiced their concerns over the plans this week, with the former even claiming that some of the cash would go towards clearing a £5 million debt due to the holding company, which is controlled by owner Farmer and current club chairman Petrie.

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With fundraising for the proposal due to be launched in 11 day’s time, Dempster has reiterated the club’s position.

In a lengthy statement on Hibs’ official website, she said: “Assertions are being made that there is some uncertainty about will happen to the money the process generates. So, for the record: The club has said from the outset that funds raised through supporters buying shares in the club will not be paid to any existing shareholders, including the Holding Company. Instead, the monies will benefit the club – actually strengthening the club as supporters are seeking to buy a controlling interest. It is 
really important to remember that the cash raised by the sale of shares to supporters will be new money, money we never had and could not therefore use and it goes straight into the club.

“That is why we have said that this money will help fund the club’s sporting ambition – helping bring improvements to our football performance from first-team level down in the short, medium and long-term.”

After a supporters’ movement to oust chairman Petrie came to nothing after Hibs’ relegation from the Premiership in May, Dempster urged fans to focus on the future rather than dwell on the past. She added: “I understand supporters felt deeply hurt, angry and upset the club was relegated. I get that, I honestly do. I understand that relegation, following on from a few years of poor on-pitch performance, damaged the relationship between club and supporters.

“But, at some stage, we need to stop looking back, we have already started the hard work to get better and we will keep on this path. We have initiated a set of circumstances whereby our club can grow, and grow at pace. It is now down to the support at large to determine how quickly this happens.”