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Questions to the Board


Rocky

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Evening all,

Will get an update to you about what I've been up to in the month of April soon (this week) and share around the supporter landscape.

Happy to tell you I have a full response to the 32 questions asked on here. Some questions were linked and the response below will cover them all and more. I can tell you these questions weren't diluted in any way and Tracey presented them absolutely as you worded them in February and March to the full board.

As always, I'm here to help and continue to build that supporters and club partnership.

KP


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The Club’s Supporter Directors are regularly approached, both in person and online, with issues which supporters need resolved, or wish to have raised.

Recently, supporters have raised issues around a range of topics, including the role of Hibernian Supporters Limited, how the Club deals with transfer income, the value of our training centre, how our recruitment of players works, the balance of loan deals, the role of supporter directors themselves, ticketing and the matchday experience.

The following information has been put together by the Club’s Board to help accurately inform supporters about the working of their Club.



FINANCE AND INVESTMENT


HSL:


HSL was established as a vehicle to allow supporters to band together to finance the purchase of shares in the Club on an ongoing basis. To date, that has raised around £712,000, which has been a significant help to the Club in its campaign to return to the top flight of Scottish football and to maintain a competitive position at the top end of the league.

All of the funds raised by HSL to purchase shares contribute to putting the best team we can on the pitch.

HSL is run by a Board that is independent of the Club. The two Club representatives on the Board form a minority. Relations between HSL and the Club are positive, and the Club tries to be supportive of any initiatives that HSL comes forward with.

In recent months, the numbers participating has increased, and more work is planned to encourage more supporters to become involved. HSL will drive any announcements on their activities, and the Club will support them. It is the Board’s view that HSL should remain the focus of supporters who wish to buy shares through a “shared ownership” model, and that the creation of any other or rival schemes would simply create confusion. HSL has a legal agreement that allows HSL to continue buying shares as long as they are available.

It should be noted, that in excess of 30% of the shares in the Club are now owned by supporters.

TRANSFER INCOME:

The Club does not disclose transfer fees. However, the sale of John McGinn to Aston Villa has been widely reported on. Supporters should understand that any income from a sale has to be offset by a number of things. For example, part of the agreed purchase of John from St Mirren in 2015 was a “sell-on” clause that meant St Mirren were significant beneficiaries from the sale in 2018. A variety of fees require to be paid.

Hibernian also paid out a number of fees to bring new players to Easter Road in the summer and January windows (more than most Scottish Clubs outwith Celtic and Rangers). In other words, supporters should be assured that the Board tries to make as much money available to strengthen our squad as it is able to do. However, a balanced approach needs to be taken between supporting recruitment and retaining players. In other words, not all investment in the squad means paying transfer fees.

Our football budget is running at its highest level.


OTHER ISSUES:

HTC

The Club spent £5m creating Hibernian Training Centre which was opened in December 2007. A number of managers, notably Tony Mowbray and John Collins, advised the Board that investing in a high-quality training facility would be the best way to invest in the Club’s footballing future.

HTC allows our first team to train professionally and allows us to best develop young players. It is not just about the physical environment, it is also about attracting high calibre people into our support structure in disciplines such as sports science, sports medicine, and analysis and recruitment. Whilst the running costs are significant, the Board believes that owning our training centre outright, with no debt, should continue to provide the Club with good value going forward.

Other SPFL Clubs are currently looking at financing similar centres.


GENERATING ADDITIONAL REVENUE AND INVESTMENT:

The Board continues to look at innovative ways of generating additional revenue and attracting investment.

For reasons of commercial confidentiality, the Board would not wish to enter any detailed public discussion around these topics. However, supporters should be confident that the Board is very aware of the financial landscape in Scottish football and is constantly working in the background to ensure our Club is not disadvantaged.





FOOTBALL DEPARTMENT, HEAD COACH AND RECRUITMENT

Hibernian’s player recruitment works along very similar lines to hundreds of senior clubs throughout Europe.

Our Head Coach identifies positions and areas he wishes to strengthen. He also sets the criteria he is looking for in the players.

The recruitment team work long hours, often spent on the road and away from home, to identify options for each position the Head Coach wishes to fill. Clearly, the Head Coach cannot himself cover the hundreds of games throughout the UK and Europe that are required. We do encourage and welcome any contacts, ideas, knowledge and suggestions our Head Coach can also bring. Players are also put to us by agents, directly and via the Head Coach.

If he is unhappy with the options presented, the process starts again. The Club spends all it can on producing players for our first team, but our budget clearly dictates that Hibernian does not sign players our Head Coach does not approve.

The Loan market is something Hibernian uses – along with every other Scottish club, and through the loan system we have gone on to sign a number of players on permanent deals, notably Dylan McGeouch, Ofir Marciano, Flo Kamberi and Scott Allan.

We are conscious of the need to try to balance loan signings against our need for continuity as we try to build the quality of our squad. Our view is that loans should provide an opportunity to sign good quality players who might otherwise be unavailable to us, and who bring additional quality to our squad. The core must always be our own players.

The Club does try to do its business as quickly as possible, and usually completes deals in reasonable time. But this is not always something that is within our control. For example, Marc McNulty was a priority target in January. That we were unable to complete the deal until the last day of the window was not through lack of effort on our part.




SUPPORTER-ELECTED DIRECTORS

Until now, Supporter Directors have each served a two-year term, with both having to seek re-election (should they choose to) at the same point every two years. This is an historical anomaly, caused as the election for the first two took place at the same time.

This has created a situation that can lead to a lack of continuity. The suggestion was put to the Board that we seek to “stagger” the elections, so there is one election for one director every year. At all times we have at least one experienced Supporter Director on the Board.

That desire to create greater continuity has been behind the changes to the electoral process this year. At this point we should congratulate Keiran Power on his success and make public our thanks to Frank Dougan for his four years of valuable service to his Club.

The successful candidates come to the Board as full and equal Non-Executive Directors, with the same access to information and with the same legal and financial responsibilities to the Club. The aim of the role has always been to ensure that there is a “supporter voice” on the Board, and that supporters have a mechanism for raising issues with the Board.

The Club is still very supportive of the concept, but we do know we must seek constant improvement in the way we support the Supporter Directors in communicating with the wider support base.

The role is a challenging one, but the Club is grateful to all who have stood and all three individuals who have served to date.

TICKETING

We work closely with our partner, Ticketmaster, to improve our ticketing system. Similar Ticketmaster systems are used by the majority of UK senior clubs.

For the most part, the TM system works well and allows supporters to buy online in ways that would otherwise only happen in person. As an example, supporters can create family or friend groups to link and buy on each other’s behalf saving time in visiting the Ticket office.

Of course, we have experienced issues with online purchases. It is a technical system therefore when there is a glitch with for example software upgrades or how a match has been set up, there are sometimes unintentional issue that we only realise once live and work quickly to resolve. However for the most part, the system allows the Club to sell online without issue.

We can also experience issues at points of high demand. For an away game at Tynecastle supporters are understandably so keen to obtain tickets that they will log into the system early and on multiple devices. To make a game ‘live’, TM need to refresh the ticketing portal just before the release time. This is a necessary technical requirement to make the game ‘live’ however refreshing means that anyone on the site prior to it going live will be logged out. This then adds to a sense that the system isn’t working because supporters feel that they have lost a place in the queue when in fact they haven’t because the sale hadn’t started. Similarly logging in with multiple devices puts strain on the TM system as the traffic is focused and heavy across a short period of time. These are technical issues that are unavoidable however add to a narrative that the TM system isn’t working.

The TM access control system and much of the associated hardware is approaching 10 years old, although it was cutting edge at the time of purchase, event scanning and access has moved on. We are currently in discussions with TM about how we modernise the hardware and improve the overall system while also considering other ticket partner options for the future. Our ticketing team work to serve supporters and often under extreme pressure. We are grateful for their commitment and dedication to our supporters.

Allocations for visiting supporters:

In planning a game at Easter Road, the Club must make decisions on ticket allocations some time in advance. We base our decisions broadly on demand of home support both current and historical although there is always consideration and emphasis on security and safety.

Where it is clear a match is selling well for the home stands and there will likely be a need to utilise a reasonable part of the South stand then we will usually try to make this happen. This decision is taken by Hibernian but we try to do so in conjunction with the visiting Club - we have three options to split the South stand for visiting support which broadly allows for 1400, 1900 or the full stand.

Allocations are not pre-set at the beginning of a season, they are demand based.

Away Season Tickets and Loyalty Points:

There is no need for loyalty points. There are very few away games for which demand exceeds supply. For those in demand games, all season ticket holders have the same opportunity to purchase. Cup semi-finals and finals provide adequate availability of tickets. Loyalty points creates another layer of bureaucracy, and in the view of the Board creates an additional layer of supporter status. Away season tickets, at the time of writing, were not fully subscribed.




GENERAL – STADIUM AND MATCH-DAY EXPERIENCE


Club Ownership:
The Club has benefited from stable ownership for more than a quarter of a century. For much of that time, the holding company has made it plain that the Club would only be sold to the right person, or persons, with the right plan that protects the Club moving forward. Nothing has changed in that regard.

Our Home: Easter Road Stadium is our home, and one we are proud of. New arrangements were recently put in place to improve the maintenance and upkeep of the stadium. In the past few years we have also massively improved signage in and around the stadium – with more work to follow – and we have tried to make the stadium more identifiably the home of Hibernian FC.

The sound system at Easter Road is an announcement system, for spectator safety, rather than an entertainment system. The entertainment system would be significantly more expensive, requiring a seven-figure investment. However, we are constantly looking at how we can improve the system we do have.

Kiosk catering is a regular source of discussion with supporters. We work with our catering supplier to try to reduce queueing and improve service and quality. This is kept under regular review, and we will be looking to make further improvement.

Match-day communications have significantly improved, with our social media activity now widely followed. However, supporters should also be assured that our media team is currently working on future content that will better reflect the desire of supporters to get a better and more entertaining view of the club’s operations, in particular at HTC.
Thanks @Power and @traceyhibs for this. Nothing particularly surprising in the responses but it does leave me with the impression that the club is aware of, and on top of, the issues that we care about as a support so I find that very positive.

One little point that I did find interesting was the Ticketmaster reply about the hardware being a bit elderly. I take from that answer that it's actually Hibs that own the hardware, is that right? If so at least it explains why things do run slowly sometimes for us yet TM can sell tens of thousands of tickets for other events in a matter of minutes.
 

beefy

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My question has not been answered. Sorta expected it TBH.

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Sir Shrink

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My question has not been answered. Sorta expected it TBH.

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Can’t actually remember your question Beefy, but I’m pretty sure it was answered earlier.

42.

Just to save you scrolling back.
 

traceyhibs

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Thanks for posting KP and good to finally get these up


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beefy

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Can’t actually remember your question Beefy, but I’m pretty sure it was answered earlier.

42.

Just to save you scrolling back.
Thanks for all the fish, Sir



But seriously my question, which is a fair one, is post 16 on this thread. It got missed by the OP in this thread too when we had a wee spat. Funny that, cos I was gonna reply that it will probably get, ahem...missed when the answers are revealed anyway but I never and just had a wee dig instead.

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Sir Shrink

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Thanks for all the fish, Sir



But seriously my question, which is a fair one, is post 16 on this thread. It got missed by the OP in this thread too when we had a wee spat. Funny that, cos I was gonna reply that it will probably get, ahem...missed when the answers are revealed anyway but I never and just had a wee dig instead.

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My memory is pretty crap to be honest, but I have a vague notion that STF kept this building out of the ‘ground and surround’ quite intentionally so that if the club ever changed hands to someone who wanted to asset strip (build houses for instance) the TO would serve as a ransom strip.
Now that could be interpreted as a clever move to prevent the stadium being flattened by developers…………………. or, it could be interpreted as a clever move to guarantee the owner of the TO getting a sizeable ‘ransom’ to allow the development to proceed.

I think I checked audited accounts before on this one, and it was around twenty odd thousand rather than fifty. We could get it rent free, but as Sir Tom has said before "I'm not a charity".

But it would be better getting facts from the Board rather than half remembered stuff from me.

You’re welcome to the fish @beefy

:54:
 

beefy

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Cheers Billy,

Happy to pass on - @beefy where is this taken from and what is your concern?
No concern just wondered why it was separate from the rest of Hibs? Read about years ago in a thread from here and always wondered why? As Sir Shrink has said with a couple of reasons and a different price, it would be nice to know the truth. With Hibs it always seems like financial talk is frowned upon and it's none of your business when it really is. Happy to trot out how much HSL has raised though. Which I'm glad as I'm a member. Just upped my donation matter of fact.



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hibadelic

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I missed the original cut off so not really complaining but I did ask this almost two months ago. Since then Keiran has come on board so only fair to give him a crack at it 😉

In light of recent events, have either the board or the fans reps changed their opinion that sectarian chanting is entirely an issue for the police?

I think I also asked if either of the fans reps feel they could personally get behind this issue?
 

Power

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I missed the original cut off so not really complaining but I did ask this almost two months ago. Since then Keiran has come on board so only fair to give him a crack at it 😉

In light of recent events, have either the board or the fans reps changed their opinion that sectarian chanting is entirely an issue for the police?

I think I also asked if either of the fans reps feel they could personally get behind this issue?
Good question R and this isnae a politician answer fae me - I’ve not got an opinion (that’s on any topic) as it’s important I amn’t seen to represent the support inaccurately or influence - Something I said in my personal statement. That stance will give me the right platform to get behind whatever the majority of the fans think/want - regardless if I agree or not. Will I be too far away from what the support think? I’d like to think not.

From the short conversations I’ve had, I believe Sectarianism falls into the unacceptable conduct push the club is making for everyone inside the stadium.
 

Purple & Green

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Good question R and this isnae a politician answer fae me - I’ve not got an opinion (that’s on any topic) as it’s important I amn’t seen to represent the support inaccurately or influence - Something I said in my personal statement. That stance will give me the right platform to get behind whatever the majority of the fans think/want - regardless if I agree or not. Will I be too far away from what the support think? I’d like to think not.

From the short conversations I’ve had, I believe Sectarianism falls into the unacceptable conduct push the club is making for everyone inside the stadium.
From memory of fifa guidelines it’s also within the referees remit, and they have sanction to stop the game and take the players off. I think there might be a few avenues to explore with agencies not doing their job?
 

Sir Shrink

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From memory of fifa guidelines it’s also within the referees remit, and they have sanction to stop the game and take the players off. I think there might be a few avenues to explore with agencies not doing their job?
Sadly this would also be quickly exploited with the opportunity for fans to belt out the nonsense if their team was heading for a defeat... unless it was tied to a points reduction such as that for fielding an ineligible player.

Although that too seems to be applied with a lack of consistency.
 

Hibee Kev

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Sorry KP, also a bit late to the party with this one..

What was club's thinking behind inviting (or allowing) the Daily Record - of all papers - to East Mains for an exclusive look behind the scenes at our player recruitment etc? Their treatment of our club before and since has been nothing short of disgraceful.
 

Power

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Sorry KP, also a bit late to the party with this one..

What was club's thinking behind inviting (or allowing) the Daily Record - of all papers - to East Mains for an exclusive look behind the scenes at our player recruitment etc? Their treatment of our club before and since has been nothing short of disgraceful.
No knowledge on that one. I seen from the last Working Together meet-up by minutes they won’t ban any press from Easter Road?but the above scenario is quite different isn’t it.

I can see how everyone felt about that and it’s making sure fans opinions are known should another scenario like that happen.
 

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