Hibs are prepared to take a £250,000 “hit” to oppose a newco Rangers playing in the SPL, the Evening News can reveal today.
The Easter Road club plunged almost £1 million into the red in the last financial year and are expected to report large losses again when their latest set of accounts is posted in a few months’ time.
But even so, the club’s directors have decided the sporting integrity of the SPL is of paramount importance and are ready to suffer, like others, the “collateral financial damage” anticipated should, as expected, top-flight clubs vote against the transfer of the Rangers share in the SPL to a newco.
Capital rivals Hearts and Dundee United have already signalled their opposition to such a move, which requires an 8-4 vote in favour when SPL clubs meet on July 4. Motherwelll and Inverness Caley will canvass their fans before reaching a decision while others have yet to make up their minds.
With the future of Rangers clouded, the SPL released the fixtures for the coming season with the Ibrox side’s name replaced by “Club 12.” Hibs are due to play whichever team that turns out to be at home on October 6 and January 19.
Had the opposition been Rangers, the Edinburgh club could have expected to sell out the South Stand which accommodates some 3800 away fans on each occasion at £28 a time, which amounts to more than £210,000, a figure which would rise when programme and food sales are taken into account.
Nevertheless, a meeting of Hibs directors – who had taken on board the views of their fans, many of whom had expressed their opinions directly to them – decided to vote No while calling on all supporters to back their clubs. In a statement released afterwards, they said: “This re-affirms the view of the Board that the sporting integrity of the SPL is of paramount importance.
“The board is also acutely aware that in making this decision Hibernian – like other clubs in the SPL – will suffer collateral damage at a time of severe economic hardship and uncertainty.
“The board believes it is time for all fair minded supporters to get behind their clubs and to contribute in whatever way they can to the viability of the professional game in Scotland.”
Hibs’ decision won’t be regarded as a surprise, with chairman Rod Petrie having previously insisted “Integrity is beyond purchase”. Petrie said: then “That’s fundamental to us at our club, to make sure the integrity of the game is not called into question and that the sporting integrity of the competition we take part in is maintained at the highest standards.
“It’s not a question of any sum of money in return for that integrity – integrity is beyond purchase.
“It’s important that all clubs can have a place within football, provided they have earned it in a sporting sense and also have abided by the rules.”
Meanwhile, Hibs have confirmed they’ll play German outfit Union Berlin at the Stadium Alte Forsterei, which is in Berlin, on Tuesday, July 24.