Hibs today revealed the cost of their final season in the Championship, the Easter Road club racking up a loss of almost £300,000 in the last financial year.
However, while admitting the figure falls “some way short” of their target to at least break even, chairman Rod Petrie insists the results, which were dropping through shareholders’ letterboxes this morning, were “satisfactory”.
Having taken the decision to again maintain the structure and staffing of the club as a Premiership outfit operating in the Championship, Petrie maintained it was impossible for Hibs to break even in the second tier of Scottish football.
The previous accounts showed that Hibs had, in fact, made a modest profit of £200,000 following two years of losses, largely down to the Capital club winning the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years following an earlier visit to Hampden for the final of the League Cup.
Petrie contended that having finally secured promotion to the top flight, winning the Championship by 11 points, last season could be viewed with satisfaction both from a sporting and financial point of view.
In his letter to shareholders, Petrie points out that turnover rose to £7.7 million, the highest level since 2012-13 when it reached £8m and, importantly, cash balances as of June 30 stood at £3.5m, an increase of £1m over the year.
In large measure, he says, that is down to the level of season ticket renewals prior to the year end, sales having now reached 13,000, eclipsing the previous record and meaning that all but 3000 of the 16,000 seats available for home supporters at Easter Road for each game are already sold.
“Season 2016-17 will be remembered as a promotion winning season,” writes Petrie. “A return to the top flight of Scottish football had been the single objective for the season. Looking back, a winning margin of 11 points looks comfortable.
“It did not feel that way at times. But once we hit the top of the table for a third time after the turn of the year we held that position to the end. It was a great effort which brought everyone together to achieve success
“Sporting success on the pitch, backed by attendances at home matches, leads to satisfactory financial results. We have said before that your board took the decision to maintain the structure and staffing of the club as a Premiership outfit in the Championship.
“This includes continuing to invest in the players of the future through the Hibernian Academy. We said too that, having made that decision, it was impossible to break even in the Championship without major sporting success.
“Six trips to Hampden for major cup semi-finals and finals in three years and a Europa League tie all helped. As did the Scottish Cup win on May 21, 2016.
“Record attendances at Easter Road allied with another Scottish Cup semi-final tie and player trading at the end of the season resulted in a loss for the financial year of £277,000, some way short of our target which is to at least break even.”
Revealing shareholders now have a 34 per cent stake in the club, including 11 per cent held by Hibernian Supporters Ltd, Petrie admitted there was probably more transfer activity this summer than many had anticipated, the departure of top scorer Jason Cummings to Nottingham Forest balanced, he claimed, by “the welcome return of some familiar faces.”
But, he added: “It was the deals that were not done - by rejecting a number of offers for players - which gives us hope that season 2017-18 can build on the success of last season.
“The board has done all that it can to match the efforts of supporters and deliver a competitive budget for this season. The skills of our recruitment and player identification department have been harnessed to identify talent, both externally and from within.
“In conjunction with the head coach a talented squad of players has been assembled. The early signs are encouraging with another trip to Hampden already this season.”