US businessman Ron Gordon has today (Tuesday) agreed a takeover deal for Scottish Premiership football club Hibernian FC.
The agreement will see the majority shareholding in the Edinburgh club pass from HFC Holdings – owned by Sir Tom Farmer and Rod Petrie – to Bydand Sports, a new company set up for this purpose by Gordon, who was born in Peru but moved to the US at the age of 15.
Hibs said Bydand Sports will make a further cash investment in the club, which the Scottish Sun newspaper said will be worth about £6m (€6.7m/$7.6m). Hibs added that Farmer and Gordon worked together in the transaction to eliminate the club’s mortgage debt, said to be around £3m, according to the BBC. This means the club is now debt free, six years ahead of plan.
Hibs said Gordon is a self-made businessman who has built and sold a network of broadcasting companies. He is also a lifelong football fan, whose grandfather emigrated from Scotland in 1908. Hibs finished fifth in the Premiership last season, with the club having been transformed during the past 28 years of stewardship by Farmer, Petrie, and other directors.
Indeed, Farmer, who is due to turn 79 this month, first became involved in 1991 to help avoid a takeover from Wallace Mercer, at the time chairman of city rival Heart of Midlothian. Farmer said: “After almost 30 years the approach from Ron has struck a chord and the time is right to transfer the stewardship of our great club.
“I want to pay tribute to Rod Petrie who has been integral to the building of the club. Together we picked up the pieces from the receivers of its parent company when the club had nothing and after 28 years of hard work we leave this club significantly better off than when we walked through the doors all those years ago, with a 20,000 all-seater stadium that is one of the best in Scotland, a first-class training centre and no debt.
“There have been approaches over the years, and we have done them all the courtesy of hearing what they had to say. Ron’s passion for Hibernian and its origins and his commitment to the community and the engagement he wants with supporters shone through.”
Following the transaction about a third of the shares in Hibernian will be owned by existing shareholder supporters with Gordon becoming the new majority shareholder. He said: “I had a great first conversation with Sir Tom. We swapped stories from our childhood and compared our approach to business.
“There are many similarities and those values are evident in Hibernian not only as an outstanding football club but also its engagement with young people and through the Hibernian Community Foundation. That it is such a well-run club was one of the major attractions for me.”