Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster has claimed the club is “about to erupt in the most positive way” as she revealed a new move to allow supporters to take a bigger stake in their team.
The club is committed to offering fans the opportunity to hold a controlling stake in the operation with the original share issue declared a success having taken supporter ownership from around two per cent to more than 20 per cent while pumping some £500,000 into head coach Alan Stubbs’ budget.
Now Dempster hopes the latest initiative, which will allow individual fans to buy shares more easily, will prove as big a hit, supporters having previously had to employ the services of an Independent Financial Adviser although they could – and still can – contribute through the collective ownership vehicle Hibernian Supporters Limited.
Launched with a promotional video in which Dempster insists the ambition is not only to get back into the Premiership but to “be chasing silverware and to lead the club back into Europe”, the chief executive said: “We have used the terminology ‘sporting ambition’ and the Hibs supporters wanted to know what that meant.
“Hopefully we have demonstrated that over the transfer windows this season and Alan has continually stressed ‘quality over quantity’. That is the mantra at the club now and the money the supporters have put into the club has helped us achieve that. It gives us real confidence in the transfer market knowing they are behind us and it allows us to do things we otherwise might not be able to do.”
Rather than go through a fairly complex process, fans Europe wide can now buy shares – a minimum of £200 worth and a maximum of £10,000 – with a few clicks of a button online.
And Dempster hopes that will persuade more supporters to come on board, recalling the initial difficulties the original launch faced with some factions of the support highly suspicious.
She said: “If you put a figure on it you are setting yourself up to fail. But we raised more than £500,000 with the process last time – and it wasn’t the easiest of processes. I would be hopeful we would be able to achieve at least that.
“If we could replicate that between now and June that would be a success. We would be comfortable and happy with that. We are committed to reaching 51 per cent. It may take us longer to get there, but we want to get there. This is another avenue towards that.”
Despite Wednesday night’s shock defeat by Morton, one which leaves Hibs facing a major struggle in trying to overhaul Championship leaders Rangers to take the title and the one automatic promotion spot, Dempster is well aware Stubbs’ stock is rising but, she insisted, he is committed to Hibs having extended his contract to the end of next season.
She said: “We do not talk in the language of him staying or going. As you do well in life – and Alan and the team are doing very well at the minute – so there will always be that discussion and speculation around.
“Alan committed to us on his new deal and we committed to him and things are going well at the moment and our expectation is that we want him to continue to do well and we want him to be here.
“We’ve put together a great team of people with Alan and the technical coaches and the decisions and choices they have made with players and the recruitment people in the background like George Craig [head of football operations].
“We are still in the Championship and we want to get out of it. We don’t just want to get back into the top flight. We want to be chasing silverware and to lead the club back into Europe. We want this club to succeed and they are not just aspirations. It is the plan.
“Alan and the guys are a massive part of that. The longer we keep all of that together and working together then the stronger and better we will become.”