Hibs today moved back into the black as the Easter Road club posted an impressive set of figures for their last financial year.
Although the profit was a modest £100,000 compared to losses amounting to around £2 million over the course of the previous two years, turnover rose by more than £1m while net debt was reduced by £900,000 to stand at £5.5m.
Presenting the latest set of accounts, chairman Rod Petrie insisted there was “much to admire” in the club’s financial performance over the year to July, particularly in the context of the general challenges faced by Scottish football allied to Rangers being replaced in the top flight by Dundee last term.
The healthier figures, Petrie revealed, were due to greater success on the pitch, with Pat Fenlon’s side finishing seventh as opposed to 11th in the previous year, a rise which, while still falling below the expectations of the Hibs board, shareholders and supporters alike, generated more income.
Expenditure was also driven down, with staff costs falling from £4.1m to £3.9m. This saw the wages-to-turnover ratio, seen as an important indicator of a football club’s financial health, drop from 60 per cent to 49 per cent, while the number of season tickets sold rose from 7000 to 8000, allowing the club, said Petrie, to “build a cost base for this season commensurate with that larger core level of income.”
Proof of that, insisted Petrie, was the ability of manager Fenlon to sign ten players over the course of the summer including switching the money set aside to bid for Leigh Griffiths from Wolves to purchase Swindon Town striker James Collins with the chairman describing the payment of a transfer fee as being “almost unheard of” in Scottish football in recent years.
Although he conceded the season had got off to a disappointing start, Petrie contended that the first objective of the board was to ensure the safety and security of the club so that future generations do not have to “suffer the anguish and torment of whether their football club would fold and die.”
And the club had gone a long way to achieving that objective by surpassing break-even to post a small surplus. Petrie said: “There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, a lot of sacrifices made to get us back to break-even, that’s our objective every year.”
Describing year-by-year losses as “unsustainable,” Petrie went on: “We took the actions that were necessary to maintain a control on costs and we’ve been able to see a slightly higher level of revenue primarily coming out of a slightly higher position in the league. We are not saying that’s at all satisfactory, finishing seventh but it shows you the additional income is the difference between trading at break-even or a small profit and trading at a loss.
“Turnover is up, costs are down, we’ve achieved profitability on an operational level and the bottom line. Mortgages were repaid on the due date and we have made a small cash surplus on top of that so all these things are positive indicators of the good work of finance director Jamie Marwick, club secretary Garry O’Hagan and the team of people behind the scenes. Sacrifices have been made, some people have left the club and we’ve taken savings that have come from that to try to maintain the amount of money we invest in the player squad.
“We have brought in players who, by and large, have experience of the Premier League. They have bought into the vision here and we need to see that group of players deliver and I know that is what they want to do.”
Hibs’ annual shareholders’ meeting will take place at Easter Road on Monday, October 1 at 7pm.