Ron Gordon: We won't allow Hibs to get left behind by Hearts
Hibs owner Ron Gordon has moved to quell fears that the Easter Road outfit could be left behind by their city rivals Hearts.
Admitting that worries about being drawn into a relegation battle had factored in the decision to sack Shaun Maloney, the chairman said the biggest disappointment was missing out on the financial and reputational boost of European football.
Ousted from the top six following a derby defeat in the last round of Premiership fixtures before the split, a second loss to Hearts at Hampden on Saturday blocked their only remaining qualification route, as well as quashing hopes of silverware.
That proved too much for the Hibs board.
Hearts’ progress into the Scottish Cup final at Hibs’ expense guarantees the Gorgie club a prolonged run in Europe next term and a multi-million pound payout, while the Leith side’s inability to hang on to top six and give themselves the opportunity to push for one of the UEFA qualifying berths has hit the club in the pocket.
“This was a year for us to be in the top six and competing for European competition and the fact we are not in it is a major disappointment,” said Gordon, well aware of the Conference League safety net that exists this year, with the groups stages awaiting teams who fall at the final hurdle whilst seeking Europa League group action. “To be in Europe, that‘s really what our goals are, so, in a way…we missed the boat.
“It was the wrong season not to perform. So I am a little disappointed. Kudos to Hearts because they had a terrific season and it will be very beneficial to them but I don't think we are going to be left behind. We won’t let ourselves be left behind.”
He said the board recognised the danger of being drawn into the relegation play-off, though.
"That's always a fear, right? We don't visualise it that way, but it's always a possibility.
“Somebody brought up the Terry Butcher situation from before my time, when we were looking to win one game to avoid relegation and didn't get it.
"I don't anticipate us being there but the board thought it was a good time to make the change and position us differently for the next five games. Those are critical games, so we need to perform.”
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