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By the summer of 2003, Hibs were in severe financial trouble. This was mainly due to overspending while Alex McLeish was manager and the withdrawal of the lucrative deal between Sky Sports and the Scottish Premier League. The club was £17M in debt and were technically insolvent according to a report by the major accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The club was being supported by loans and guarantees made by majority shareholder Sir Tom Farmer.
Petrie, the managing director and the only significant minority shareholder in Hibs, explored options as to how the club could continue to trade. Two options were identified: one was for the club to stay at Easter Road while increasing revenue; the second was to sell the Easter Road site to clear the club's debt and to share a proposed new ground in Midlothian with Edinburgh rivals Hearts, who also had significant financial problems.
Hibs opened discussions with Hearts about the possibility of moving to Straiton, but this was met with a sceptical reaction by the Hibs support. In response to this reaction, Hibs appointed former player Pat Stanton to act as an "honest broker" in the public consultation process that followed.
The result of the process was that Hibs decided to stay at Easter Road. The club launched a campaign called Stand Up And Be Counted to attract lapsed fans in an effort to increase revenues. Hibs also sold some excess land behind the east side of Easter Road to a housing developer (Westpoint Homes) to reduce the club's debt to a more manageable level.
Petrie was appointed Hibs chairman in December 2004, after the resignation of Ken Lewandowski. This meant that Petrie was simultaneously chairman and chief executive, which is against the practice recommended by the Cadbury Report.
After the appointment of Tony Mowbray as Hibs manager in May 2004, Hibs made a trading profit in three consecutive years. Hibs have also received significant transfer income for Garry O'Connor (£1.6M), Kevin Thomson (£2M), Scott Brown (£4.4M), Ivan Sproule (£0.5M), Steven Whittaker (£2M), and David Murphy (£1.5M) during this same period. Hibs also lost the services of Scottish internationalists Ian Murray, Derek Riordan and Gary Caldwell for little or no fee due to the failure of Hibs to agree new contracts with these players.
Petrie has come in for criticism, particularly after the resignation of John Collins, that he has not used enough of these revenues on increased spending on players. Petrie has argued that the club has increased the budget for player wages four times and invested in a new training ground in East Lothian, while also reducing the net debt to under £3M. Petrie's relationship with the Scottish media has also been a point of controversy, as some journalists have accused Petrie of being uncooperative.
Petrie resigned from his position as chief executive in April 2008 and was replaced by Scott Lindsay, but has retained his position as chairman. Petrie stated that Lindsay would take over the "day-to-day running of the club", while Petrie would retain control of "executive duties", including the negotiation of player contracts and setting the player budget.
- ^ a b "Hibs reveal Farmer stake". BBC Sport. July 30, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/h/hibernian/3109551.stm.
- ^ SPL posts record losses BBC News, September 23, 2003
- ^ Kwik-Fit keeps Hibs afloat BBC Sport, June 25, 2003
- ^ Hibs spokesman's honesty is appreciated www.hibs.net, July 10, 2003
- ^ Capital groundshare plan BBC Sport, June 16, 2003
- ^ Hibs fans share scepticism BBC Sport, June 16, 2003
- ^ Stanton leads consultation BBC Sport, June 24, 2003
- ^ Straiton still on for Hearts BBC Sport, October 29, 2003
- ^ Straiton dead end unites the Hibs family Sunday Herald, November 2, 2003
- ^ Time running out Hibernian official site, February 4, 2004
- ^ Hibernian Comment on Land Sale Hibernian official site, January 24, 2004
- ^ Petrie takes over as Hibs chair BBC Sport, December 14, 2004
- ^ Achieving greater independence in the boardroom www.spencerstuart.com, October 2005
- ^ a b "A Winning Season". Hibernain official site. http://www.hibs.co.uk/news/more.php?id=A2352_0_1_0_M.
- ^ Garry O'Connor Completes move to Lokomotiv Moscow www.hibernian-mad.co.uk, March 6, 2006
- ^ Rangers pay Hibs £2m for Thomson BBC Sport, January 30, 2007
- ^ "Brown completes switch to Celtic". BBC Sport. 2007-05-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/celtic/6661737.stm.
- ^ "Bristol City sign Hibs' Sproule". BBC Sport. June 28, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/b/bristol_city/6769397.stm.
- ^ "Whittaker in £2m Rangers switch". BBC Sport. August 1, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/h/hibernian/6921914.stm.
- ^ "Murphy completes Blues move". Birmingham City official site. January 17, 2008. http://www.blues.premiumtv.co.uk/page/News/NewsDetail/0,,10412~1218184,00.html.
- ^ a b Hibs subsequently re-signed Murray and Riordan.
- ^ Collins resigns as Hibs manager BBC Sport, December 20, 2007
- ^ Hibernian official site[dead link]
- ^ Petrie defends Hibs spending Eurosport, September 11, 2007
- ^ The Moustache With The Cash Daily Record, January 23, 2008
- ^ Boardroom changes at Hibernian STV, April 4, 2008
- ^ Petrie delegates control of Hibs The Scotsman, April 3, 2008