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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Kwik-Fit keeps Hibs afloat
Hibs owner Tom Farmer
Sir Tom Farmer has been criticised by Hibs fans
Hibernian have revealed that they would go bankrupt if it was not for the generosity of Kwik-Fit millionaire Sir Tom Farmer.

But the Scottish Premier League outfit have warned that their debts - expected to rise to 17m - cannot be sustained much longer.

Hibs chairman Ken Lewandowski was responding to criticism from fans as the club consider a proposal to share a new stadium with Edinburgh rivals Hearts.

Lewandowski said that the collapse of television revenues and the general downturn in football finances had left the club at a critical crossroads.

"The collapse in revenues has seen operating losses add to our debt burden in recent years," he said.

The club can only continue to operate with the support of Sir Tom Farmer
Hibs chairman Ken Lewandowski
"That debt, adding losses incurred in the current financial year, is likely to be in the region of 16-17m.

"At this moment in time, the club can only continue to operate with the support of Sir Tom Farmer, who has funded the operating losses.

"We are privileged to have Sir Tom's ongoing support, but no-one can honestly believe that relying on the generosity of one individual is the best course of action for the long-term welfare of the club."

Lewandowski explained that moving to a new stadium on land owned by a company of which Farmer has co-control was one possible way of tackling the debt problem.

Farmer, who sold Kwik-Fit to Ford in 1999 but remained company chairman, is a lifelong Hibs fan who went on to take control of the club.

"Some, unbelievably, seek to castigate the man without whose ongoing support the club's position would be very much worse and, indeed, our very existence could be under threat," said Lewandowski.

"It is the duty of the board to examine any proposal that might deliver real and tangible benefits to the football club."

Easter Road
Hibs hope to sell the car park next to Easter Road
Hibs have launched a consultation process with their own fans, a number of whom have suggested that selling the car park next to Easter Road would wipe out the debt without the need to share a bed with their bitter city rivals.

"It is unlikely that it will achieve the 10m figure being speculated upon in the media," the club chairman said.

"Once associated costs, such as professional fees and tax, are removed, the figure will be further reduced.

"We are still likely to be left with significant debt, perhaps around 10m."

Lewandowski explained that the debts had come as a result of an unforeseen fall in revenues at a time when Hibs "had to make up for decades of non-investment in the stadium to create acceptable facilities and to meet legal safety requirements".



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24 Jun 03  |  Scottish Premier
Edinburgh clubs keep talking
22 Jun 03  |  Scottish Premier
Land gift for capital pair
18 Jun 03  |  Scottish Premier
Capital groundshare plan
16 Jun 03  |  Scottish Premier
Hibs fans share scepticism
16 Jun 03  |  Scottish Premier

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