Bournemouth billionaire to make Hibs undisputed third force in Scotland

Minority stake and analytics key to Foley’s bid

Hibs chairman Ian Gordon Hibs chairman Ian Gordon
Hibs chairman Ian Gordon

Billionaire Bournemouth owner Bill Foley aims to establish Hibs as the undisputed third force in Scottish football – after opening talks on buying a minority stake in the Easter Road club.

Using analysis, recruitment and hard cash, Foley believes Hibs can put a virtual stranglehold on third place in Scotland’s elite division, guaranteeing European football every season.

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The American investor, who hopes to obtain significant holdings in a stable of “four or five” teams all over the world, sees Hibs as a crucial part of his plans.

The collection of independent organisations would share expertise on and off the field.

The Gordon family will still be majority shareholders, having made serious investments across the organisation, and will continue to be the controlling figures at the club.

Hibs insiders confirmed yesterday that preliminary discussions had taken place, with more planned over the coming weeks.

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Foley’s plan is to install analytics experts using the same recruitment model that has proven so successful for Bournemouth.

With a new technical director also a possibility, Hibs would be financed to pursue players ultimately destined for the Premier League club – and capable of delivering consistent qualification for UEFA competition.

Following Hibs owner Ron Gordon’s passing in February, son Ian and widow Kit have been open to the idea of outside investors.

And the model being proposed by Foley, who also counts the Stanley Cup-winning Las Vegas Knights ice hockey franchise among his business interests, holds a strong appeal.

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Foley revealed his interest in an unnamed Scottish club on the Men in Blazers podcast recently, saying: “I’m fascinated by the Scottish Premier League (sic).

“They play hard, Scots are tough. They play a tough brand of football.

“And I believe there are opportunities to make one of the No. 4, 5 or 6 SPL teams to get them to No.3 and they play in Europe.

“I believe we can pull that off with not a gigantic investment – and be a minority investor, be supportive of that club.

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“And then work on sponsorship together because we have a whole sponsorship and I know we can help an SPL team.

“We’re working towards that goal right now with a particular team.”

The CEO of Black Knight Sports and Entertainment, who counts Hollywood superstar Michael B Jordan among the other investors he’s attracted to Bournemouth, has already used his company to acquire a 33 per cent stake in French Ligue 1 club FC Lorient.

And he’s now considered favourite to win rights to the new A-League franchise planned for Auckland.

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Explaining his vision for a multi-club portfolio working together, the 78-year-old said: “Then we have our sights set on some other clubs. And I believe we could end up with four or five economic interests in clubs.

“We would then have a system in place for players to advance and move on to the next club, then the next club.

“We will have similar analytics staff in place, and technical directors, to look for the right type of players who can ultimately play for AFC Bournemouth.”

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