The Future in Our Fans

by Dave Shanks

 

As I started writing this article, Hibs were sitting at the top of the First Division and were on the verge of clinching the league (and promotion) with a good half dozen games to spare. Across the city, our local rivals were sitting at the bottom of the Premier Division, having seemingly gone in to freefall since the turn of the year. The general upbeat feeling in the west of the city that was evident this time last year has seemingly evaporated, only to re-appear in the eastern half now. The fragility of that upbeat feeling can be measured in the status that the two teams now have: Hearts are ranked the 10th team in Scotland; Hibs are 11th. Nothing ranked so poorly could possibly be too upbeat for too long. Some Hibs fans have been gleefully exacting revenge for the smirks and jibes that were aimed at us only a year ago. The smirks and the jibes are probably best locked up alongside the First Division Flag (if it arrives), something you could flaunt but it's probably better if you don't.

You would think that at least one side residing in the country's capital city would be up there challenging for the number 1 slot. Indeed, last season, Hearts were. But their position this season implies that that was just a "flash in the pan". Neither capital club has been able to consistently mount a strong challenge to the old firm. Why that should be is probably down to a number of reasons, probably best left to the future historians to debate. What is probably of more concern to both clubs is in overcoming the biggest problem preventing them from rising back up those rankings: the current financial plight of the two clubs.

However you dress up the figures, and from whatever way you look at it, the current financial plight of the two clubs are remarkably similar. If you could get a straight answer to a straight question, the debt of Hearts would be pitched somewhere around the 10 Million mark. The debt of Hibs is near enough the same, although in our case that debt is split across 2 balance sheets, one that shows probably no more than 2 Million in the red, the other taking up "the rest". The only difference between the two clubs would appear to be Sir Tom Farmer. He has used his considerable business clout to enable our club (Our club? His Club!) to be expressed over two balance sheets, and maintains that the fans shouldn't worry about the debt that he has syphoned off. Maybe he's right, and we shouldn't. But we should worry about what caused it to get to that state in the first place. There may not be a Sir Tom around if it happens again.

There are two types of debt. The first is a type of debt that is used to acquire something that you want, and can afford to repay. Like a mortgage on a house. The other is the type of debt that you incur as a result of indulging in a reckless manner. Like a drunken gambler in a casino, there is no thought given to what you are spending nor what it is being spent on, and precious little consideration that it has to be paid back at some point. The problem with footballers is you never know quite which kind of debt you're getting yourself into. Knowing your limits is the key to this game, and realising your potential is all that we can ask for. I would hope that we have a board that know what our limits and our potential are.

The aspirations of a clubs' fans are to see their team challenging, and winning, honours on a regular basis. To achieve this, the club has to offer the most attractive terms and the most attractive facilities to the best players. To offer the best costs the most, and at the end of the day that means generating the biggest financial return from, yes, us. The fans. The more the fans put in to their club, the more we will get out of it. Sure, TV and Advertising can bring in just as much as what comes in through the gate. Sure, that money has to directed correctly. Sure too, that we need a manager at the helm who can make it all happen. But the root is the fan base.

The future of Hibs lies in the vision of its fans, and the willingness of those fans to dip in to their pockets to achieve it. Hopefully next year we will return to the Premier League. Hopefully too we won't just be one of the also-rans. Hopefully, we will have the courage to realise that if we want the best we have to pay for it.

Then, maybe, that upbeat feeling will last a little bit longer in Leith than it did in Gorgie.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or of the London Hibs Supporters Club

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Content is (c) London Hibs Supporters Club. Individual articles on this web site are the personal views of the authors concerned, and no liability is accepted by the Web Master or Editors of London Calling or Hibees Here, Hibees There.  Articles, or portions of articles, may be reproduced only after prior permission has been obtained.