HSL share scheme ‘not healthy for Hibbies’

Founding Directors of the Hiberninan Supporters Limited Charlie Reid (right), Kenny MacAskill (left) and Hibs Chief Executive Leeann Dempster. Pic: SNS
Founding Directors of the Hiberninan Supporters Limited Charlie Reid (right), Kenny MacAskill (left) and Hibs Chief Executive Leeann Dempster. Pic: SNS
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Hibs supporters opposed to the proposals for a share issue which offers them the chance to take control of 51 per cent of their club say the deal carries a “serious health warning”.

The warning comes ahead of tonight’s annual general meeting.

In recent weeks Hibs have paid off their debt to the Bank of Scotland and the remaining £5 million is now owed to a holding company controlled by Sir Tom Farmer. Hibs have agreed to pay back that debt over ten years by way of annual interest free payments of £500,000.

A new company, Hibernian Supporters Limited (HSL), has also been created in which fans can invest either monthly or annual amounts towards HSL owning a majority stake, money the club say will go directly to the team.

But Hands on Hibs, and BuyHibs, along with Mike Riley who is chairman of the Hibs Supporters Association, claim money paid into HSL will go straight to Farmer.

Today further voices were added in opposition with Paul Kane, chairman of Hibs Former Players’ Association, saying: “Hibs fans are being asked to pay off a debt of £5m created by the mistakes and mismanagement of the board. It is morally wrong. The fans have given so much over the years and still they get no clear answers about this debt, the current finances and how they’ll get full control.

“One thing for sure this is not community ownership.”

Glenn Ross has called for the Hibs Shareholders Association, of which he is a member, to be revived. He said: “It’s been lying dormant for years because the ordinary shareholders have no say in how the club is run. It is down to two men, Sir Tom Farmer and Rod Petrie.

“This new scheme should carry a serious health warning. Hibs have brought in millions in transfers and property deals over the years yet we find ourselves being asked now to pay off the debt to the majority shareholder. Hibs fans don’t trust them to run the club properly. They are not football people and never have been. They should do the right thing and hand the club over with no dodgy deals and leave us to bring in new investors. There are a lot of people in the Hibs community willing to help.”

Club legend Pat Stanton said: “I am not advising anyone either way. I have friends on both sides, but I’d just say to supporters they should carefully consider what’s on offer.”