On this day in 1990: Hibs saved from Mercer takeover

Easter Road - the fans reaction to Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer's bid to merge with Hibernian FC to form an Edinburgh super-team (the Hands Off Hibs campaign).
Easter Road - the fans reaction to Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer's bid to merge with Hibernian FC to form an Edinburgh super-team (the Hands Off Hibs campaign).

On this day 27 years ago Hibs were saved from a controversial takeover that would have seen the Easter Road ‘merge with Hearts’.

Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer. planned to combine the clubs, to play in a new stadium to be built on land owned by Rangers chairman David Murray at Hermiston on the city outskirts and to challenge the West of Scotland’s football supremacy.

Police attended when hundreds of angry Hibs fans turned up at Easter Road football stadium after hearing Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer planned a takeover of their club in June 1990.

Police attended when hundreds of angry Hibs fans turned up at Easter Road football stadium after hearing Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer planned a takeover of their club in June 1990.

In early June The Stock Market was told: “Hearts have received an irrevocable undertaking from David Rowland’s company Inoco plc to accept their 40p per share offer which values Hibs at more than 6m if the Scottish League approves the deal.

“Hearts believe this is a very generous offer given the financial and share price performance. Hearts are in discussion with the Hibs board with the hope that this will lead to a recommendation of the offer.

“Hearts are convinced that advantages will accrue to both themselves and Hibs and to Scottish football, locally, nationally and internationally from the bringing together of Edinburgh’s two Premier Division clubs.”

Three days after Mercer went public, the Hibs board, their hands tied by Stock Market rules and unable to voice, at least in public, their opposition, met and rejected Mercer’s offer.

Following Mercer giving up on his bold move, Hibernian Football Club were eventually “saved” by millionaire Tom Farmer when he purchased a “substantial number” of shares in an attempt to block Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer from taking over the club.

Farmer made it clear that his intention was not to take over the club himself, but to prevent Mr Mercer’s attempt to do so.

This blocking move, 27 years ago today, helped keep Hibs alive and had a direct impact on the future of both Hearts and Hibs and the Scottish game.