Paul Kane, the leader of “Forever Hibernian” campaign seeking a fans’ buy-out at Easter Road, has claimed the group are already in talks with potential investors.
Although club owner Sir Tom Farmer has rejected the campaign’s first proposal to buy the club and stadium with a majority shareholding held by supporters, a blueprint for a “Newco Hibernian Fans Co-operative” is now being drawn up.
The plan is for fans to own a 51 per cent shareholding through a membership scheme while Forever Hibernian aim to attract finanace for the other 49 per cent and Kane, spokesman for the fans’ group, believes they can reach agreement with Sir Tom with “both parties acting in good faith”. While revealing the initial proposal to HFC Holding Ltd, the club’s parent company, was rejected due to tax and investment complications, Kane insisted the door hadn’t been closed with supporters seriously concerned about how the club has been run by Rod Petrie and the current board as demonstrated by the protest rally outside Easter Road last month in wake of Hibs’ shock relegation to the championship which called for the chairman to leave his position.
The former midfield star Kane said: “We have already talked to potential investors in the business community who are Hibs supporters as well as other potential investors.
“The current owner acknowledges the club is entering a new era and we are confident we can establish commmon ground. Sir Tom Farmer has always said he saved Hibs for the community. Now is the time to establish his legacy for Hibs with the fans at the very heart of the club.”
Kane conceded, however, that while he is confident the plans, akin to the way the 8000-strong Foundation of Hearts is funding the takeover at Tynecastle, will come to fruition, they are at an early stage of development.
He said: “It is also crucial both sides act in an open and transparent manner. We are busy making sure we get the right model and no doubt there will be adjustments as regards the membership scheme, details of the co-operative, and trust etc.
“We are working with the Hibs Supporters’ Association and all the people involved, putting in a lot of effort in the background, are Hibs people with one common goal – Forever Hibernian.
“We will present more details to the fans as soon as we can in the near future about the membership scheme. Overall we are in for the long haul.”
And Kane was adamant football clubs need to change and embrace a closer relationship with their supporters.
He said: “Football clubs know they are in a new era of openness and transparency where they have to involve and respect the fans – especially with social media where their views cannot be ignored.
“The Hibs support has had serious concerns about how the club has been run by the current board and chairman. They want radical change as was seen at the rally on June 7.
“Since then we have come up with our first proposal. There were some problems which we feel we can rectify. Now it is stage two with the new proposal.
“There is now a hard-headed realism in Scottish football. There are few, if any, sugar daddies out there who are going to come in and buy the club for millions. But we are confident we can build a new future for Hibs with the fans forever at the heart of it.”