Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hibs Remain In The Black

"Six In A Row" screams the Edinburgh Evening News back page.

A headline that doesn't refer to Hibs' current losing run at home.

Rather the club have announced better news. A sixth consecutive year of profit.

Given the troubles facing Scottish football this is a fine record. And it's hard to argue with chairman Rod Petrie when he called it "a truly outstanding achievement within football, let alone football within Scotland."

Obviously the backdrop is that the club has to sell players to retain the self sufficiency that has allowed them to redevelop the stadium and build a training complex in East Lothian.

The profit this year, down to £100,000, is due to the sale of Rob Jones and the add-ons negotiated in the sale of Steven Fletcher to Burnley and his subsequent move to Wolves.

So we can imagine that Anthony Stokes' transfer to Celtic will already be making the current financial year look quite rosy for the board.

Hibs fans will be delighted with the financial news - and a few might even use it to goad the Hearts fans.

But there is a flipside: the financial course the club is plotting means there is not the money to bring in the players that supporters would want to see playing for the club. And that means that sustained success on the pitch is always likely to be out of reach.

Petrie noted that playing costs had increased:

"At a time when many football clubs were reducing playing budgets, the board sought to support our new manager and sanctioned a further increase in staff costs from £4.7m to £4.8m in the year."

At the same time he promised that the current wages ratio of 68% is unacceptable and the target has to be 60%.

It's all very sensible and laudable. It might not be exciting but nor is it a kamikaze ride in a game that offers far more opportunities for financial madness than it does for a prudent approach.

The fans just have to accept that.

For their part, the board have to ensure the time, resources and money are constantly available for youth development. If the business plan depends on selling players then you have to have the players to sell.

And it's through a blend of those youngster and the experienced players that the manager must wheel and deal to bring in that Hibs have their best chance at some success on the pitch, however transitory the financial realities dictate that success must be.