THERE are certain words that should immediately send a shiver down the spines of Scottish football fans. The referee for today’s match is Willie Collum, for instance. VAR checking goal. I can make your club the undisputed third force.

A series of owners, some more fly-by-night than others, have swanned into our towns over the years offering such empty promises, and it seems that Hibernian fans are next in line to be told that a benevolent, kindly investor is about to make their dreams come true. Yeah, and if you believe that, I’ve got a monorail to sell you.

The trouble with assertions such as those made by Bournemouth owner Bill Foley as he looks to take advantage of a potential relaxing of rules around dual ownership by the Scottish FA, is that a weary football community here have heard them all before. We’ve been sold this bill of goods, and been stung.

Did John Boyle fulfil his promise to make Motherwell the ‘best of the rest’ in the Scottish game? Well, no, that dream ended in administration. Perhaps Giovanni De Stefano had better luck at Dundee? Oh. What about Dominic Keane and later, Angelo Massone at Livingston? Ah.

What about Vladimir Romanov at Hearts? He couldn’t even achieve it with arguably the third biggest club in the country.

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As far as I can see, the only real beneficiary in the wake of this trail of destruction was the omnipotent administrator Bryan Jackson, who must have topped up his pension pot rather handily as he travelled around the country saving these clubs from rack and ruin.

Admittedly, only some of these parties held interests in other clubs, while some didn’t. But almost all were chancers. The point is that, if anything, we should be looking to safeguard the ownership of our clubs from their likes further, not opening them up to those who - at the very best - see them as little more than a cog in a bigger machine.

The strict rules here around dual ownership specifically have benefitted Scottish clubs in the past. God knows where Rangers might be right now, for example, had Mike Ashley’s influence been allowed to grow unchecked a few years back.

Thankfully, that was tempered - despite the presence of the organ grinder’s monkey, Derek Llambias, on the Ibrox board - by the rules that prohibited Ashley from having a controlling interest in Newcastle United and simultaneously, Rangers.

Then there was also the case of businessmen Paul Conway and Chien Lee trying to get their claws into Partick Thistle a few years back, with Conway - and stop me if you have heard this one before - proclaiming: “If we had a Scottish club, we could challenge the duopoly of Celtic and Rangers, 100 per cent.”

Quite what his concrete plans were for the Jags, we never found out, save for the aim of buying a 55 percent stake. Many suspected it was the land Firhill was situated on that made it an attractive proposition. Allegedly.

What we can say for sure is that he had taken both Barnsley and Nice into debt, and both he and Lee were voted off the Oakwell board after they were relegated to League One in 2022. They have since been hit with a series of EFL charges over the opaque nature of the club’s ownership.

They are also now reportedly open to selling another of their clubs, KV Oostende, after their own relegation to the Belgian second tier and with debts sitting around €6m. A spokesman for a leading KVO fan group said they felt ‘cheated’ by Conway, and called him ‘More American than Trump’, while two of their other clubs, Nancy and Esbjerg, were also relegated last season.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and lollipops for Thistle of course since they dodged that particular bullet, but thanks to the SFA rules prohibiting Conway and Lee buying such a stake, as well as the generosity of the late Colin Weir, they are at least in control of their own destiny as a fan-owned club.

I am not suggesting that Foley is a similar character to those mentioned. But it is hard to understand how fans of a historic club like Hibs could stomach becoming a feeder club for another that in every measure – save for their balance sheet – is smaller than it is.

And Foley, to give him due credit at least for his candour, has said that is precisely what Hibs would become as part of his investment portfolio, which also currently includes a minority stake in French side Lorient.

“We would then have a system in place for players to advance and move on to the next club, then the next club,” Foley said.

“We will have similar analytics staff in place, and technical directors, to look for the right type of players who can ultimately play for AFC Bournemouth.”

It has been reported that ALK Capital, owners of Burnley, are also interested in purchasing a stake in Dundee to enable them to send youngsters up north on loan, while getting first refusal on Dundee’s best players.

It might just be me, but the thought of two great, traditional institutions of the Scottish game being reduced to proving grounds for the prospects of clubs such as Bournemouth and Burnley, is utterly depressing.

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They wouldn’t only be selling stakes in their clubs, but part of their soul, and for what? It isn’t exactly Barcelona or Real Madrid who are offering up the best of their young talent to grace our game, but the clubs who are currently 17th and 19th in the English Premier League.

Maybe I’m stuck in my ways. Multi-club ownership seems to be the way the wind is blowing, with dynasties being built to benefit the club at the top of their food chains. Celtic, for example, are also looking to build their own portfolio of lesser lights just as – perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not - the restrictions on doing so are set to be relaxed.

Maybe it’s a good thing. Whether it is Austrian second tier side Admira Wacker (the team Celtic are looking to increase their involvement with), Hibs or Dundee, that level of club could arguably benefit competitively from the input of the resources these richer outfits can offer.

Scottish football has a stated goal to increase investment into the game, and ensure that there is £50m a year available to clubs. This may be a vehicle for helping to do just that, with supporters of the move no doubt pointing out that if we maintain these stricter measures, then we will be left still further behind comparatively sized countries.

But there are plenty of cautionary tales to suggest that the restrictions on dual ownership are a prudent check and balance. Far from sparking excitement, if I were a supporter of Dundee or Hibs, I’d currently be feeling a little uneasy over the future.