Leeann Dempster has ruled out expanding Easter Road as Hibs face a soaring demand for match-day tickets.
The Capital club are currently enjoying their biggest average gates since the late 1950s, with their ground reaching its near capacity 20,400 on a number of occasions this season. Moreover, seats in the South Stand – which traditionally houses visiting supporters – have been given over to home fans.
While season ticket sales have already reached 9500 chief executive, Dempster revealed 700 of those were new holders which, she believes, may reflect the increasing scarcity of briefs available on a “walk-up” basis.
Hibs sold a record 13,000 season tickets as they returned to the Premiership after three years in the Championship, a figure which could well be smashed as existing holders renew by the end of June, after which any remaining seats will be released for general sale.
Such has been the demand for tickets, many fans have been asking if Hibs will be looking at “filling in the corners” of the stadium. Dempster said: “There’s been quite a lot of chat about that but it is not a consideration at this point.
“There has been a lot of infrastructure investment at the club in the last ten, 12, 15 years and we are grateful to have Easter Road, a great stadium, and a training centre which is wholly owned by the club and is one of the best in Scotland.
“I don’t think we have to spend any more money, although there are some smaller things we need to do like relaying the astro pitch at East Mains, work on which will start this month.”
Having won the Scottish Cup and then the Championship title, the feelgood factor has been boosted again with Neil Lennon’s players very much in the fight for a second-placed finish, a situation which, admitted Dempster, was “probably ahead of expectation”.
She said: “We expected to be in the top six. I think we can say we have achieved that, but the plan is get into the position where we regularly have the opportunity to qualify for European competition.
“We have that opportunity this season. It has probably come towards us a bit quicker than we expected, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t organised for it or not looking forward to it should it happen.
“But that’s the trajectory for the club over the next, three, four, five years, to get into the situation where, hopefully, we are regularly challenging for a European spot.”
Dempster admitted that was “a big ask” with Hibs having failed to consistently claim top-six finishes over the past decade, while European qualification is something few clubs can claim on a regular basis.
She told Hibs TV: “It’s not going to happen overnight, equally it’s not going to happen by luck but by good planning, design, hard work, great recruitment – all of those things.”