Hibs owner Ron Gordon relishing Hearts' return to the Premiership - on one condition
Hibs owner Ron Gordon says he will enjoy having capital rivals Hearts back in the Premiership next season but only if his Easter Road side are still looking down on them come the end of the campaign.
The Tynecastle club were forced into the Championship when the 19/20 season was called to a premature halt due to Covid, and other Premiership clubs - including Hibs - voted against league reconstruction.
But they have bounced straight back, winning the second tier at the first attempt, paving the way for the renewal of league rivalries next term.
The Easter Road club finished this season in third place, having also made it to the League Cup semi-final and the Scottsh Cup final but they are still smarting from the fact that neither campaign ended in silverware. With well over 8,000 season tickets sold, and European football to look forward to, they have, however, adopted the tagline ‘This is Our City’.
Defeated by Hearts in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final, which had been delayed until October 2020, they will have to justify that claim when they meet up again on Premiership duty.
The promise of the capital head to head returning next season has whetted the appetite though, with Gordon, who was raised on a diet of inter-city derbies, watching his boyhood club Universitario tussle with fierce rivals Allianz Lima in the Peruvian Clasico, aware of just how much it will mean for Edinburgh.
“I loved my first experience of the [Edinburgh] derby and I think it is great they are back. Hearts are a huge club and it is good for Edinburgh, and the city is excited, so having them back will be a wonderful thing from a business perspective and from a competitor perspective.”
Since taking over ownership of the Leith club, Gordon has seen the team clash on four occasions, with Hibs winning just once. He wants to see that balance redressed.
“At the end of the day, I will only enjoy having them back so long as we are sitting above them near the top of the tabe. That will be perfect.
“But derbies are good for the game. Having Dundee United back this season and then Hearts and Dundee. We could have a very solid Premiership next year with the biggest clubs in Scotland back in the league.
“Having big city derbies again is great. They generate that passion and the battle for the bragging rights. That’s very important and it’s good for our game.
“When I was growing up, the two biggest teams in Peru were La U and Allianz Lima… those were always packed stadiums and there was lots of rivalry and excitement, and good games. I think it’s the same with the Edinburgh derby or the Old Firm match. It gets everybody excited because it has so much meaning.
“I think you see that in every country, El Clasico in Spain, the Boca Juniors and River Plate, in Argentina. In football countries those big matches create an excitement that is well beyond the game itself so having Hearts back will be great for Edinburgh, we look forward to having the derby again. I know it has only been one year so it hasn’t been too bad but it will be good for the city.”