Hibs new owner, multi-millionaire American businessman Ronald Gordon, has revealed how he looked at clubs in four different countries before deciding the Easter Road outfit was for him.
Six months of negotiations saw the end of Sir Tom Farmer’s 28-year tenure of the capital institution in a deal which also saw chairman Rod Petrie step down after 15 years in the hotseat.
But, as he took over the reins yesterday, Gordon insisted the pair had left behind a “phenomenal” club, one which was in “a great position to do some wonderful things,” as he disclosed his determination to realise the potential of their legacy.
“I have been looking for a football opportunity for about three years,” he said. “I really wanted to get into the game, I have loved the game since I was a child.
“I looked at several clubs in three or four countries - Scotland, England, Spain and the United States. I made expression of interest in one club in England, but once the Hibs opportunity became live, that was it.
“When I looked at Hibs and reached out to Rod Petrie and began a dialogue it became clear to me that this was a very special club that had a lot of positive things going for it, an incredible fanbase, a great infrastructure and great leadership.
“There’s been great results - although I know that several years ago they weren’t so good. But, nevertheless, the club has regenerated itself and it’s in a great position, so at the end of the day, this club has great potential.”
Although there have been approaches in the past to buy out Farmer, Sir Tom has always resisted them, insisting they didn’t meet the criteria required to convince him that those individuals could take the club forward and protect its future.
However, Gordon’s approach struck a chord and, revealed the new owner, he and the founder of Kwik-Fit quickly bonded.
He said: “I had a great conversation with Sir Tom. We swapped stories from our childhood and compared our approach to business.
“There are many similarities and those values are evident in Hibernian, not only as an outstanding football club, but also its engagement with young people and through the Hibernian Community Foundation.
“Hibernian will always be Sir Tom’s club and Easter Road will always be his home.”
Peru-born Gordon made his money in television, starting a TV production company at the age of 29 with $200 in his pocket to serve the Spanish-speaking community before selling it for “significantly more” although he was coy as to divulging how much as he was as to the sum he’s invested in Hibs.
He said: “I did that because I spoke Spanish fluently having been born in Peru and, as they say ‘in the land of the blind, the one-eye man is king’, so I was that one-eyed man. I grew my company organically for 35 years and then I sold it to NBC Universal for way beyond whatever I would have expected.
“That’s what business is about but I was very blessed as a business person, the people I worked with and, ultimately, the result. Everyone looks at the destination, but for me the best part was the journey.
“So hopefully we will have a great destination with Hibs, but I am going to try to love every day as we go through it.”
Gordon admitted Hibs fans had every right to ask “who is this guy/” claiming he’d be asking the same question, but he also insisted the Easter Road support should be excited at what the future holds.
“I think they should be,” he said. “I think we are going to try to bring a tremendous amount of energy to the task. It’s not going to be perfect, I am sure we will make some mistakes. But I hope over a period of time we are going to have more success.
“We are going to grow the club in a way that’s positive for the club itself and Edinburgh.”
Although a self-made man, leaving Peru for the United States after his mother married an American before finishing his schooling in Australia because his stepfather was in the foreign service and then going on to Syracuse University, and knowing the importance of money, Gordon believes thinking out of the box is just as vital.
He said: “Money is not always the answer. Obviously you need resources, but I think creative thinking and looking at things in a different way and developing ideas and teams that can really flourish is, I think, what made my company successful.
“We’ve had this conversation with the team here, you have to have an ambition and aspiration for something which is bigger than the business itself and if everyone is behind the purpose that’s bigger than yourself then you can achieve some wonderful things.
“The football club is a great opportunity to do that. The club means so much to so many people and can make such a difference in the community both in a sporting way and a non-sporting way and I think that has to be our number one responsibility, to really be all we can be as a club in every aspect of the club.”
Accepting he is unknown in Scotland, Gordon also conceded there may be some Hibs supporters who might be wary of the change of hands at their club. But he insisted part of his task will be to win those waverers over.
He said: “I don’t think you can make everybody happy. I’m sure it’s the case that some would be wary, but we have to do our job and prove that we’re going to do positive things for the club. I’m going to give it 1000 per cent.
“I’m very excited about this and I think there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity for us to do some wonderful things. If we don’t, it’s not going to be for a lack of trying. We’re committed to the club and the more I learned about Hibs, I loved everything about it.”
Gordon admitted, though, that it may take a little while for his vision to become evident. He said: “I think my number one responsibility just now is to learn and think about what is going on.
“I know what the plans are, but I think my initial responsibility is to absorb, learn and in three to six months, begin to develop a plan and a vision. But I do see tremendous opportunity at this club and that’s why we moved forward with the transaction.”