Hibs legend Pat Stanton will today spearhead the launch of a fresh bid to take the Easter Road club into community ownership.
The campaign group, which has the backing of the Supporters’ Association, the Hibernian Former Players’ Association and Supporters Direct Scotland among other organisations, will seek to persuade owner Sir Tom Farmer to begin negotiations with them to buy the club, the stadium and the training centre at East Mains.
They hope to fund a takeover in the same way as the Foundation of Hearts did at Tynecastle with individual fans pledging a monthly amount and one or more business people putting in a lump sum, although whether they can muster the same level of support as the Gorgie club did in the face of extinction following the Jambos’ financial collapse is open to question.
And they’ve admitted they’d be prepared to sit down with new Hearts owner Ann Budge, who backed the Gorgie club’s survival, to discuss how such a move may succeed.
As yet, the new group are un-named but former Hibs captain and manager Stanton will head the campaign and be present at today’s launch at which Sir Tom and Hibs chairman Rod Petrie will be urged to enter constructive talks to relinquish power in favour of community ownership.
Sir Tom has made it clear since he rescued Hibs 25 years ago, that he’s willing to sell but has also made it clear he’ll only do so if it can be proved the club’s future would be secure. Earlier this year financial advisor David Low submitted a £3.5 million bid on behalf of a consortium, one which was rejected as “not being in Hibs’ interest”.
But now after 4000 people replied to a survey conducted with SDS, with a sizeable majority supporting more talks on community ownership, plans are said to be in place to act although, it is understood, no contact has yet been made between the new group and the club, which has been making its own moves to forge closer links with fans with one proposal being to have supporters on the board of directors.
“We want to buy all the assets together, the club, ground and training ground,” said a spokesperson. “We will ask Tom Farmer to name his price and tell us what he wants for the three assets. We’re offering a positive exit for him, one that allows him to give the club back to the community, and to leave the club on a positive note.
“This is about uniting the Hibs support to get one group driving positive change. We plan to raise the money via a mixture of individual subscriptions, with fans pledging a monthly sum, and funds from Hibs-supporting business people.”