Hibs have drawn up contingency plans to ensure home fans aren’t locked out of Easter Road with Neil Lennon’s side attracting bumper crowds to home games.
The Capital club’s opening three Championship matches against Dunfermline, Morton and Ayr United were watched by a total of more than 46,000, giving an average of 15,350.
Although it is still early in the campaign, crowds are far outstripping those of last season when Hibs’ 17 home games averaging gates of only 9300, the largest of 14,412 overshadowed by the 16,477 who watched the opening Championship match against the Pars this term.
Easter Road has a capacity of 20,400 but the South Stand, which traditionally hosts visiting supporters, accounts for almost 4000 of that number, reducing the number of seats available for Hibs fans, almost 11,000 of whom have bought a season ticket, that figure in itself the second highest on record.
While the home support can currently be comfortably housed in the ground’s other three stands, club officials are aware that capacity could come under pressure if, as is obviously hoped, Lennon’s side live up to their billing as firm favourites to take the Championship title and with it promotion to the Premiership after a three-year absence.
The “tipping point” may not have been reached, but chief executive Leeann Dempster revealed plans are in place which could result in up to 1600 or more home supporters being seated in the South Stand.
She said: “The stand was very well designed and there are clear segregation points which would let us seat fans in either the top or bottom tiers – it’s pretty flexible.
“We haven’t got to that point, but we have discussed it and have contingency plans in place. Neil and his players have been delivering good football and we are working hard to make sure the matchday experience is as enjoyable as possible and to improve on it every time.”
Dempster is anticipating another big crowd for Sunday’s visit from newly-relegated Dundee United despite the game having a lunchtime start as it is being screened live on television.
More than 12,500 tickets have been sold to Hibs fans, a figure she believes will move upwards as matchday approaches, as it has for each game so far while the 600 bought by United supporters is also expected to increase.
She said: “A Sunday with a noon kick-off and live on television might have an impact, but we are expecting another big crowd regardless.”