Hibs supporters have been urged to take part in a survey calling for radical change at Easter Road, ultimately aiming for a supporters’ trust running the club, at what has been described as a “pivotal moment” in the Capital outfit’s history.
So far around 2000 supporters have taken part in the survey, which was launched ten days ago and will run online until September 14. It is backed by Supporters Direct Scotland.
Former player Paul Kane, who is spearheading the Forever Hibernian campaign, believes the more fans who have their say the stronger their voice will be.
And although the club itself has been running a series of debates and discussions with fans this week about the future direction, Kane insisted supporters could use both forums to have their views heard.
The survey is the result of a meeting with the Hibs Supporters’ Association, the Hibernian Shareholders’ Association, other affiliated groups and SDS, and comes after the furious reaction to the club’s relegation which prompted a rally at Easter Road calling for chairman Rod Petrie to step down.
Kane said: “This is a pivotal moment in Hibs’ history. The club is on its knees and our fear is it will sink even lower. We didn’t think the mismanagement could get any worse, but it has.
“Neither Sir Tom Farmer or Rod Petrie are football people. Even the new chief executive Leeann Dempster has admitted Hibs are run as a corporate entity rather than a football club and it has lost touch with its fans. After relegation last May, around 2000 fans attended a rally at Easter Road calling for chairman Rod Petrie to step down and owner Sir Tom Farmer to take action, but the club chose to ignore the fans.
“The campaign held back over the summer as two different groups had entered into talks with the club about a possible takeover.
“One, involving David Low and former club chairman Malcolm McPherson, was rejected at the end of July.
“The other group including myself, Kenny McLean and like-minded Hibs fans involved a 51 per cent shareholding for the fans. I met with Sir Tom Farmer and further meetings were held but we hit a brick wall as Rod Petrie kept shifting the goalposts and we felt our good faith was not reciprocated.
“We know there is one party still trying to do a deal but we have decided to go down a different route with supporters in the key role.
“Sir Tom Farmer has always claimed he saved the club for the community. We are now offering him the chance to live up to these words.
“Over the past few weeks we have had meetings with Paul Goodwin [head of SD] and Supporters Direct over options for fan and community ownership. Paul Goodwin’s expertise has been invaluable as is evident from the work he has done with other clubs such as Stirling Albion, Dunfermline, Hearts and East Fife.”
The findings of the indepdent survey - www.scottishfans.org/hibs - will be published after the closing date with Kane promising: “If the final results demonstrate a desire to explore the options then a new united group will be formed with an independent chairperson who will plan future events with SDS. This new group will be wholly inclusive and welcome input from any Hibernian supporters.
“If at the end of the day the fans want the status quo, although I don’t think that will be the case, then we’ll put our hands up and walk away. We are trying to give the fans their say and who can argue if a large number of them say they are unhappy with the way the club is being run and are willing to take fan ownership. It would be silly not to listen.
“This is a chance for the supporters, by as many of them as possible taking part in the survey, to give a true picture of what they want.”