HIBERNIAN are to sell off a piece of land behind Easter Road Stadium which analysts predict could raise around (pounds) 10m, but not a penny will go to strengthen the team. Officials have confirmed that the 3.4-acre site had been put on the market by the holding company, Hibernian FC, with any money raised going to reduce the club debts.
The Herald understands that the total debt of Hibs stands at around (pounds) 13m, which is mainly made up of year-to-year losses on top of the money spent to re-develop Easter Road.
For example, in the last financial year, Hibs made a loss of (pounds) 1.6m, with that figure expected to reach around (pounds) 3m when they publish their latest set of accounts, due out within the next few weeks. At the same time it is believed the club have spent nearly (pounds) 14m building three new stands at Easter Road.
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Because of the growing financial burden faced by the club, Hibs have decided to sell off the piece of ground behind the south stand in an attempt to try to balance up the books. Any deal could take up to nine months to finalise, with the site at Hawkhill Avenue expected to be used for housing with the possibility that 200 homes could be built.
With the building of the Scottish Parliament on the same side of town, demand for land is high and the club expected many offers. A Hibs spokesman has said the area of land was deemed surplus to requirements by the club. He went on to confirm that monies raised would be used to improve the financial position of the club by reducing debt.
''The whole club stands to benefit from the commercial astuteness demonstrated by those who run the holding company. Reducing debt levels is a crucial challenge facing everyone and every club in Scotland.''
Easter Road is one of the stadiums being mooted for use as part of Scotland and Ireland's joint bid for Euro 2008. A new top tier would be built on the East Stand, bringing the stadium up to the required capacity.
Officials were eager to point out the sale of the land at Hawkhill does not jeopardise their involvement, with a decision expected by UEFA in December. ''The board of directors made a decision three years ago on the area of land required to redevelop the East Stand. The club owns all the land it needs to complete the redevelopment of Easter Road Stadium. The land placed on the market is not required by the club.''