Ron Gordon's Hibs vision: The key points of five-year 'aspirational' plan
Owner unveiled his blueprints for the Easter Road side at AGM
Hibs chairman and majority shareholder Ron Gordon last night shared his vision for the club with a five-year plan focusing on boosting the Easter Road side on and off the pitch.
Addressing shareholders at the club's AGM, he outlined a host of changes affecting player budget and stadium renovation.
Here's a rundown of what's in the pipeline...
Double the player budget by 2023
Gordon revealed that the player budget had been "bumped up a bit" during last month's transfer window in which Greg Docherty, Paul McGinn, Marc McNulty and Stephane Omeonga arrived. The club's aim is to upgrade the first-team playing pool while having a smaller, better-quality squad.
Speaking last night Gordon said: "We went beyond what our border was [in January]. I think our goal over the next three years is to double the budget we have right now.
"Our primary investment is always going to be the football team, that's our primary focus."
Compete in Europe every year
In an interview with Hibs TV, Gordon outlined his on-field aims for the club, saying: "We want to be in the top four in Scotland's competitions so the two cups, the league, and we want to be competing in Europe every year. That should be our minimum goal and standard."
Spend £1m on stadium renovation
The Hibs owner is well aware of the benefits of a top-class stadium, and will spend an initial £1 million on a revamp of Easter Road. Included in the upgrade are plans for a new audio system, a big screen (likely to be situated in one of the corners between the stands) and "digital video ribbons" i.e. full-motion advertising screens.
"From an advertisers' view it's phenomenal," he said. "You'll be able to get the replay, get the line-ups and see the players - all those things will just create a better environment for fans."
Increase turnover 50% by 2023 and 100% by 2025
The Peruvian-born businessman is keen to grow the club's turnover by 100 per cent over the course of the five years. Current turnover this year is expected to be £10 million, down around £800,000 from last year when the club enjoyed a European run. Gordon is keen for Hibs to become the third force in Scottish football in terms of football. Admitting it was an ambitious move, he added: "If we can increase our revenues, which if you look at Scottish football right now, we’re fifth from a turnover perspective and I’d like us to be fourth, third.
"We have a long way to go because Aberdeen have a substantially higher number budget and turnover, same with Hearts. We need to move up that ladder. A lot of the funds that are going to be generated operationally are goign to go into the football programme."
Shake-up matchday catering and hospitality
Revealing that one of the biggest complaints has been about the matchday catering, Gordon added: "We're bringing the catering in-house. We're relying on improving the services and upselling things like hospitality and the catering kiosks.
"We're going to upgrade tihngs like Behind the Goals, and the Edinburgh Suite, although it's not a priority in the plan. We're going to develop a three-year capital plan to review our hospitality offerings because I think the way we do it at the moment is a bit retro."
Boost season ticket sales
Insisting that the club doesn't have to increase tickets "that much", Gordon outlined his hopes that, over the next five years, the club can have sell-out crowds more regularly.
"My goal is to hopefully get to a situation where we have sell-outs on a consistent basis, not just the Hearts game or the Rangers game. Season-ticket wise we are at 13,000 right now, but if we can get to 13,500, 13,700 that gives us a stronger base. [speaking later to Hibs TV, Gordon quoted figures closer to 16/17,000].
"At the end of the day, the supporters are the foundational group that really keeps our club going forward in an important way. Our gameday attendance and season ticket holders is our number one revenue category so we need to continue to invest in that and grow that."
The club's link-up with betting firm Marathonbet ended last summer, with the Hibernian Community Foundation acting as shirt sponsor for the 2019/20 season. Gordon, however, is keen to bring in new sponsorship and has installed a new sales team with the hope of delivering results.
He said: "Other than Celtic, which probably has a massive portfolio of partners at a substantial price, the rest of the clubs I think are struggling. We're working on a shirt sponsor. We'll see what happens but it's difficult. Some of the categories [e.g. gambling, alcohol] are moving away from the game but there's a place for them - we just have to find it. But I'd like to see more traditional brands come to the game."
Links with other clubs
Gordon revealed last night that Hibs are in talks with "at least six clubs" in different areas, with a view to building partnerships at the "professional, academy, coaching and commercial level", while informal discussions have taken place with one UK-based team.
He added: "We have three [clubs] in Europe and two in the USA and we'll continue to look. We're talking to one that has a phenomenal academy. We'd like to invite one of their coaches to come for a year and be an academy coach with us, and we might send some of our players to their academy for a summer."
HTC / Academy priorities
Included in the blueprint are plans for a full-size, multi-purpose indoor facility at East Mains with a view for completion prior to 2025 as well as a "refresh and upgrade" of the facilities at the Hibernian Training Centre.
There will be continued investment in recruitment, analysis, nutrition and science and medicine.