Ron Gordon has vowed that Hibs are not just a selling club – and has made it clear that he wants finishes at the top end of the table to become the ‘norm’.
Hibs rejected offers from Birmingham City and Millwall for Kevin Nisbet and Ryan Porteous in January and could face bids for highly-rated left-back Josh Doig this summer.
The Leith outfit would have been around £4 million better off had Scotland striker Nisbet and defender Porteous departed.
Hibs’ stance was all the more surprising given that the club’s bank balance decreased by over £3 million during the last year due to the pandemic.
Jack Ross has Hibs on course for third place in the Premiership this season and that’s where US-based businessman Gordon wants the team consistently.
Explaining his reasons to deny the players a move south, Hibs owner Gordon said: “It was a question of timing and valuation, and about where the club was at the time.
“Kevin has come back and really contributed beautifully for the club.
“He’s a terrific player and it was fantastic for him he got his first cap for Scotland and another feather in the cap for Hibs.
“Hopefully he’ll continue to do well and be in a better position to move on when the time is right.
“It’s tricky finding that balance of being competitive and allowing the players the opportunity to move to a higher level of football. It takes a bit of finesse.
“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.
“We want to build an organisation that can sustainably be at the top of Scottish football. The key here is sustain.
“We don’t want to be up and down. All clubs go up and down. They all go through stages and periods right?
“But I would like Hibs to build an organisation and a structure where being at the top of the table is the norm.”
But Gordon has made it clear that he will not stand in Doig’s way.
The 18-year-old has been linked with a £1.5 million switch to Leicester City and is said to have attracted interest from Manchester City and Arsenal.
Gordon said: “I’m excited Brendan Rodgers is interested in him.
“We have to balance being a competitive team with also not getting in the way of progress.
“For a kid like Josh, the ability to play for a team like Leicester City is something we have to be behind and encourage.
“There is a time for everyone. This is just his first year, so let’s wait and see.
“I’d hope he won’t go cheaply! I don’t think we should undersell our players. Josh is a great player, we are trying to be reasonable but we don’t want to undersell our assets as a club.”
Despite the club last month announcing £1.4 million loss for the financial period, Gordon insists last year’s pre-pandemic aims of doubling the player budget and turnover by 2023 and 2025 still stand – but admits they the target dates have been pushed back.
He added: “We are definitely a year behind, just by the calendar, but I think we can pick up fairly quickly on some of the initiatives previously planned.
“I’m hoping we can accelerate and make up for lost time but we are clearly running a little bit behind. I’m just hoping we can pick up as quickly as possible.
“I think if we can double the (player) budget by 2023 that would be really, really good.
“Even if we don’t get to doubling it, we can up it substantially and that would be good.
“We are planning to hopefully do that for this season. It will be an increase for sure.
“But a lot will depend on when we get back to fans in the stadium because ultimately that is going to fuel whatever we do.”
Asked to elaborate on when he expects fans to return to stadia, Gordon added: “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.
“But our planning is, at the very latest and hopefully that will be the very latest, it will be at the beginning of 2022. So let’s see what happens.”