Hibernian fans' views sought on possible community takeover

By Alasdair LamontSenior football reporter, BBC Scotland
Easter Road Stadium
Sir Tom Farmer has had a controlling interest at Easter Road for 23 years

Hibernian supporters are to be asked their views on the possibility of taking control from current owner Sir Tom Farmer through a community buyout.

It is believed a group, still in the embryonic stage, aims to follow the fan-funded model that helped steer rivals Hearts out of administration.

Parties have expressed an interest in buying Hibs since the Edinburgh club were relegated to the Championship.

And chairman Rod Petrie has come in for criticism from a section of fans.

Around 1,500 people gathered at Easter Road in June to hold a demonstration aimed at ousting Petrie, who has handed over the day-to-day running of the club to chief executive Leeaan Dempster.

Farmer has said before that he would only sell his majority stake to someone with Hibs' best interests at heart.

The understanding is that the new group, assisted by Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS), hopes to bring some of the parties - including the Paul Kane-led Forever Hibernian - under a wider umbrella to try to assemble a viable takeover bid.

The first step, though, is simply to canvas Hibs supporters' thoughts on community ownership via an online survey.

Paul Goodwin, head of SDS, said: "The Hibernian FC survey will seek to get the opinions of as many fans as possible before we conduct a series of meetings and workshops with them in the coming weeks.

"With so much speculation surrounding other bids for the club from outside parties in the recent weeks, this gives Hibs fans the chance to express their own views on the future governance of their club.

"If there is sufficient support for such a scheme, the Foundation of Hearts model has proved to be a recent success and would be a sensible example to follow.

"That would mean seeking supporter pledges while at the same time asking the business community to underwrite at least part of the final total."

Earlier this month, Hibs rejected a £3.5m takeover offer fronted by David Low on the grounds that it was "not in the best interests of the club".

The 'Forever Hibernian' project, fronted by former Easter Road midfielder Kane, set a target for supporters owning a 51% stake through a membership scheme.

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