He’ll have to keep his business-head on when it comes to transfers – but Hibs chairman Ron Gordon is pushing for the Easter Road club to be as ambitious as possible.
In the winter transfer windrow, Hibs turned down offers for star men Kevin Nisbet and Ryan Porteous. Nisbet’s attention from Birmingham City led to the striker pushing for an Easter Road exit, although that is firmly behind him as his Scotland call-up showed.
But after teams such as Birmingham City came calling in the winter, Gordon says he would expect at least one key player to leave in the summer: “We have to balance being a competitive team with also not getting in the way of progress.
“I don’t think we should undersell our players. We spoke about it at the AGM last year, we want this to be a player’s club. We want to do the right thing by them by having their careers in mind first and foremost. That could be a possibility (one player leaving) and to be honest it wouldn’t surprise me.
“We are thinking about those possibilities and planning accordingly. I don’t anticipate more than one, at the outside two. But I do think that one could have the opportunity to move this summer. It was a question of timing and valuation, and about where the club was at the time.
“They were not easy decisions. Both of them want to grow and compete at the highest level. I am 100-per-cent sure they will have other opportunities. I think they both agreed. Kevin has come back and really contributed beautifully for the club. It was fantastic for him he got his first cap for Scotland.
“It’s tricky finding that balance of being competitive and allowing the players the opportunity to move to a higher level of football. But I wouldn’t consider us as just a selling club. We get an offer and we sell? I don’t think so. We have a mission to be as competitive as we can be.”
Like many chairman across football, Gordon is eager for fans to return after a year without them, predicting that Hibs supporters may return to Easter Road in a full house capacity in 2022: “A lot will depend on when we get back to fans in the stadium because ultimately that is going to fuel whatever we do.
“I don’t anticipate it will happen for the start of the season. We are being conservative, I think, in our assumptions, that we are going to have full stadiums or the ability to have full stadiums sometime in the early part of next year. Hopefully, it will be earlier than that.”
On the park this year for Hibs, manager Jack Ross has made progress with his Easter Road squad. They are on course for a third-place Scottish Premiership finish while an achievable route to the Scottish Cup semi-final has been laid out, having already made the League Cup semi-final and last season’s Scottish Cup last four.
Gordon believes Ross is a ‘steady steward’ of the club: “I have to say that Jack has done a fantastic job. Football is unpredictable, as we know, and can be very cruel at times. And we have certainly had some disappointments. But we have also had a very consistent year and the fact we have been in three semi-finals in a row is an accomplishment.
“The fact we have been sitting near the top of the table pretty much all year is also fantastic. I hope Jack feels the club has been supportive — which I think he does — and we will continue to build on that. I don’t think we should ever not have more ambition.
“As a club, we will always have more ambition. But we have to go one step at a time. Finishing third is an accomplishment for sure. It is fantastic. But, again, it is not in the bag. We need to finish the job. If we do finish third? Major accomplishment.
“Cup performances in the last year and a half, certainly since I have been at the club, have been fantastic. Opportunities like this in football don’t present themselves as readily as you would hope.”
Gordon is also making moves off the park, with Hibs set to appoint a new chief executive within the next month, following the departure of Leeann Dempster: “We are in the process, I would say in the final stages, of our search. I don’t want to predict anything.
“I would think that some time within the next 30 days we should be able to make an appointment. But, we are still interviewing. We have had a terrific number of applicants, over 100 applicants and interested parties.
“It is a fantastic club and it is a wonderful position for somebody in football. We are being very meticulous about it and are excited about the prospect of bringing somebody in who can help the club advance.”
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