Green for go: Hibs shareholders approve billionaire's multi-million-pound buy-in at AGM

Hibs to spend 'significant funds' on squad as part of Foley stable

Hibs shareholders have given the green light to billionaire Bournemouth owner Bill Foley’s £6 million buy-in. The resolutions relating to the American’s bid for a minority stake in the Easter Road club were voted through at tonight’s Annual General Meeting, clearing the required 75 per cent majority threshold.

As first revealed here back in October, Foley has plans to turn Hibs into the undisputed third force in Scottish football, with regular European football a key element of their addition to his stable of clubs. As well as holding a controlling interest in Premier League side Bournemouth, the 79-year-old’s Black Knight Football Group owns a stake in French club Lorient – and has the licence for a new A-League Franchise in Auckland.

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The American welcomed the conclusion of negotiations, saying: “We are excited to announce a strategic partnership and investment in Hibernian FC today. We look forward to partnering with the Gordon Family and other shareholders to accelerate the success of Hibernian FC and BKFC. We believe this partnership, with our commitment to invest in player development and infrastructure, can help BKFC and Hibernian FC reach new levels of success and help Scottish football continue to grow.”

Hibernian FC Chief Executive Ben Kensell hailed tonight's vote, saying: “This deal is ground-breaking in Scottish football and game-changing for Hibernian Football Club, so I’m really pleased it was ratified this evening. 

“The Gordon Family and I spent months in dialogue with Bill and Black Knight Football Club to ensure they were the right partners for this fantastic club, and during that time we quickly realised we were totally aligned with our ambitions for Hibernian FC. I’d also like to thank the Scottish FA for their openness, transparency, and support in getting this deal agreed.

“This is a really exciting time for everyone involved with Hibernian FC. The future looks very bright and fans should be excited.”

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The cash influx provided by Foley, whose overall stake in Hibs will comprise 25 per cent of the total company, has been earmarked for a number of infrastructure projects, including building some kind of indoor facility at Hibernian Training Centre and making improvements to Easter Road. But there will be an impact on the transfer budget, with Kensell promising: "There will also be significant funds available to football, have no doubt about that."

Foley’s acquisition of a minority stake in Hibs needed specific approval from the full Scottish FA Board, with the club having to convince the governing body that his influence won’t break rules and guidelines on dual ownership – a hot topic across Europe at the moment. There will definitely be tie-ins with Bournemouth on the transfer front, Foley declaring: “We're not going to be a controlling shareholder, we're going to be an investor, but we certainly want to coordinate acquisition and disposition of players with Hibs - and I know they can use the help.

But Hibs have made it clear that they will still have the final say on recruitment – and won’t have fringe players from the Bournemouth system foisted on them.

A statement from the Gordon family read: “We are delighted that the partnership with Bill (Foley) and Black Knight Football Club has been ratified; a partnership that’ll greatly benefit the long-term future of Hibernian FC.  We share the same values and ambitions as BKFC, and it was always part of Ron’s vision, and long-term plan, to bring in a minority partner. As a family, we have an unwavering commitment towards Hibernian FC and to building a winning, successful club."

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