It is perhaps appropriate given Sir Tom Farmer’s background in tyres that he believes new Hibernian owner Ron Gordon is the right fit to take the club into the future.

Having rescued the Easter Road outfit first from the hostile takeover of Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer and then the threat of going out of business, Farmer has, with right-hand man Rod Petrie, helped to transform the Edinburgh club in the last 28 years.

Now boasting an envied 20,000-seater stadium and a state-of-the-art training facility, and able to celebrate recent on-field successes, Hibs are in rude health as they pass on to the stewardship of 63-year-old Gordon.

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The US-based businessman has admitted to seeking a way into football for the past three years, scouting out opportunities in England, Spain, the US and Scotland, not just Hibs. However, just as Gordon settled on the Easter Road club as right for him, Farmer has revealed that he and Petrie had rejected others before deciding the time was right to sell on their two-thirds majority shareholding.

“We always applied three criteria,” explained Farmer, who turns 79 next week. “It had to be the right person, with the right plans – and the right finance to carry the plans forward. This is the first time we’ve met somebody who ticked all three boxes.

“A lot of people were enthusiastic, telling us: ‘Oh, I want to own a football club!’. We would say: ‘Fine. Tell us what you’re going to do with it’. Then it hit the wall. ‘Have you got deep pockets?’ And the answer was no. A lot of enthusiastic people got carried away – and that would be no use.

“We have to be very careful over who we pass it on to, because I would hate to think that all the hard work Rod has put in, along with all the other various directors, the work I’ve done, would be wasted. I would hate to think that, six months after this, Hibs are back in the position we were in when I took over.”

Gordon, who will be joined on the board by Archie Paton, a sports industry executive who has assisted him in the buy-out, also spoke of having a good feeling about the takeover.

“I have been looking for a football opportunity for about three years,” said Gordon, who has professed himself satisfied with the work of manager Paul Heckingbottom and chief executive Leeann Dempster. “I really wanted to get into the game, I have loved the game since I was a child. I looked at several clubs but when I looked at Hibs and reached out to Rod Petrie and began a dialogue it became clear to me that this was a very special club, had a lot of positive things going for it, an incredible fanbase and great infrastructure and great leadership.”


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Gordon, who will still be based in the US but will be in Scotland ‘a lot’, admits it is only natural for some supporters to be sceptical about his takeover but is hopeful the majority will be excited by a move he believes can bring fresh a energy and approach to the club, even if Farmer’s earlier quip about majorettes and hotdogs was tongue in cheek.

“I'm going to give it 1,000 per cent,” he commented. “I'm very excited about this and I think there's a tremendous amount of opportunity for us to do some wonderful things. If we don’t, it’s not going to be for lack of trying. We’re committed to the club and the more I learned about Hibs, I loved everything about it.”

Whatever Hibs achieve under Gordon, unless he does manage to deliver the Premiership title, it could struggle to live up to the 2016 Scottish Cup victory. That triumph gave supporters a long-dreamed-of success and Farmer has revealed also the chance for him to replicate the celebrations in 1902 of his grandfather John and great uncle Phillip, who had helped save the club a few years before.

“One thing that I take great pleasure from is knowing we won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. The last time it was won my grandfather and his brother [who was club president] got the cup and brought it back from Edinburgh.They met up with a horse-drawn carriage and took it along Princes Street, down Leith Walk to the Duke’s Head in Duke Street and they had a celebration there. He then took it home and my dad told me it was on the sideboard in pride of place that night.

“I wanted to be involved in winning the Scottish Cup. I might still be hanging on if it hadn’t happened. The night we won the Scottish Cup, when I was leaving with my grandson, Adam, Rod said ‘we’ve got something for you to take home’ and he handed me a box. I thought it was a present and I wondered what it was. I opened it up and it was the Scottish Cup.”