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Hibs fans want to buy out Tom Farmer

A group of Hibernian fans aim to follow in the footsteps of their city rivals Hearts after plans for a supporter-led takeover of the Easter Road club were unveiled.

Paul Kane, their former midfielder, is heading up Hibernian Forever, which is seeking to purchase the club and stadium from Sir Tom Farmer's parent company HFC Holdings Ltd.

The proposal would result in supporters owning a majority shareholding of 51% through a membership scheme, not dissimilar to the way Foundation of Hearts (FoH) have funded their eventual takeover of the Tynecastle club. FoH have more than 8000 members and are already helping with running costs at Hearts ahead of formally taking control of the club from Ann Budge in three to five years' time.

The finance to purchase the remaining 49% stake in Hibs would come from private investors within the business community and Kane is adamant he has already had promising talks with potential backers.

He has urged Farmer, who took control of the club in 1991 in order to ward off a takeover bid by the Hearts owner Wallace Mercer, to be open towards the proposal when it is formally submitted and "establish his legacy for Hibs".

"We are drawing up a proposal for a newco Hibernian fans co-operative to own the club and the stadium," Kane explained. "The key point is the fans will own a 51% majority shareholding through a membership scheme and we will attract finance for the other 49%. We have already talked to potential investors in the business community who are Hibs supporters as well as other potential investors.

"We know we are going in the right direction and can reach an agreement with the club owner [Farmer] with both parties acting in good faith. Sir Tom Farmer has always said he saved Hibs for the community. Now is the time to establish his legacy for Hibs with the fans at the very heart of the club."

Some 1500 fans gathered outside Easter Road on June 7 to protest against the non-executive chairman Rod Petrie and the board. In the aftermath of that display, Kane's group was granted a meeting with Farmer later in the month. During the meeting it was agreed that they would submit their proposal for the future of the club. That was rejected, says Kane, because of "tax and investment complications".

Neverthless, Hibernian Forever are now pressing on with their second proposal, one which would result in the fans taking control.

"We are in for the long haul," added Kane. "Football clubs know they are in a new era of openness and transparency where they have to involve and respect the fans. Their views cannot be ignored."

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