It took ten months to put in place, but today Rod Petrie believes he pulled off the best deal possible to ensure Hibs would be free from debt to the Bank of Scotland.
Intense and complex negotiations eventually saw the Easter Road club’s holding company agreeing to halve its debt by converting £4.5 million of loans into shares with it refinancing remaining loans into a single £5m mortgage provided on terms acceptable to the club.
It’s since emerged that £5m will be repaid over the next ten years in equal £500,000 payments per annum – money which, Petrie insisted, will be found from day-to-day operations, leaving the £2.5m which the move to 51 per cent supporters’ ownership hopes to raise to go directly to the football club to fund “sporting ambition”.
Petrie said: “I wanted the deal we did with the Bank of Scotland to be the best deal. It was my mission to make sure it was. I fought for ten or 11 months to make sure it was.
“We got a settlement with the bank. We didn’t have to do that. We are not in a distressed position that they had us over a barrel.
“In the 23 seasons from 1991/92 to 2013/14 the club’s aggregate turnover was £131m and the club traded at an aggregate bottom line loss of £2m. We fought to get the deal we wanted. The ambition was to get the best deal in Scottish football.
“The £5m debt owed to the holding company is an interest-free mortgage structured to be repaid at £500,000 a year for the next decade. In each of the last three years, the club has paid £500,000 or more to the Bank of Scotland in terms of interest and repayments so it’s pitched at a level that’s affordable.
“We approach every season with a break-even bottom line. If we achieve that then from natural day-to-day operations we can make that repayment, which means the money supporters might subscribe to shares provides cash to the football club which will enable us to do other things supporting the sporting ambition of the football club.
“Ten years, job done. On the 150th anniversary of the club we will be debt free, sitting in this our own stadium and with our own training centre.
“We have been financially prudent, we live within our means, we pay our debts, we pay things when they fall due and put the most competitive team we can on the pitch.
“Have we made mistakes? Yes, we have. If you want to stop making mistakes, stop making decisions. We’ve got more right than we’ve got wrong.”