CHAIRMAN Rod Petrie insists Hibs can look forward with ‘confidence and anticipation’, despite admitting the club fell ‘some way short’ of its financial targets in making a £277,000 loss last season.
The accounts for the year to June 30 show the Easter Road outfit’s third successive year in the Championship, which finally resulted in promotion back to the Premiership, proved a costly one.
Although turnover rose by £700,000 to £7.7 million, the highest since 2012-13, when the club was still in the top-flight, staff costs also increased from £3.8 million to £4.5 million.
Despite the financial loss, after a £200,000 profit for the previous 12 months, Petrie claims there has to be ‘satisfaction’ after a winning year on the pitch vindicated the decision not to make drastic cutbacks following relegation in 2014.
Addressing shareholders, he said: “Sporting success on the pitch, backed by attendances at home matches, leads to satisfactory financial results.
“We have said before that your board took the decision to maintain the structure and staffing of the club as a Premiership outfit in the Championship.
“We said too that, having made that decision, it was impossible to break even in the Championship without major sporting success.
“Six trips to Hampden for major cup semi-finals and finals in three years and a Europa League tie all helped. As did the Scottish Cup win on 21 May 2016.
“Record attendances at Easter Road Stadium, allied with another Scottish Cup semi-final tie and player trading at the end of the season, resulted in a loss for the financial year of £277k – some way short of our financial target, which is to at least break even.”
He added: “The sporting and financial results for last season can be viewed with satisfaction. But this is also a time to look forward – and to look forward with confidence and anticipation.
“The board has done all that it can to match the efforts of supporters and deliver a competitive budget for this season.
“The skills of our recruitment and player identification department have been harnessed to identify talent, both externally and from within.
“In conjunction with the head coach, a talented squad of players has been assembled for season 2017-18.
“The early signs are encouraging, with another trip to Hampden already this season (for the Betfred Cup semi-final loss to Celtic).
“We all look to the team to excite and succeed as the club strives to achieve the ambitions which we all share for our Hibernian Football Club.”
The figures also showed cash balances of £3.5 million, an increase of £1 million from the previous year, thanks to money for season-ticket renewals having been received before the end of June.
Petrie also detailed that fans now own 34 per cent of the club, including 11 per cent in the hands of Hibernian Supporters Limited.
Returning to matters on the pitch, the Easter Road chairman hailed the club’s ability to turn down moves for star performer John McGinn in August, and to entice former players Steven Whittaker and Anthony Stokes back to Hibs.
He said: “Given the winning 2016-17 Season, there was probably more activity in the summer transfer window than many had anticipated.
“The departure of our top scorer (Jason Cummings) early in the window was balanced by the welcome return of some familiar faces.
“And it was the deals that were not done – by rejecting a number of offers for players – which gives us hope that season 2017-18 can build on the success of last season as head coach Neil Lennon embarks on his second season with the club.”