It’s already been a dramatic season for Hibs as the club secured a third place finish in the Premiership in one of the most trying years in Scottish football history.
The successful league campaign could be topped on Saturday though, with the Easter Road side facing St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup final.
Hibs owner Ron Gordon is planning an early rise to watch the action from his home in the USA but as the clock ticks down towards the final, he spoke to STV to reflect on the season so far.
The businessman answered questions on manager Jack Ross, building on the season’s success and transfer plans involving players in and out of the club.
Ron, what have you made of Hibs’ season so far?
Ron Gordon: “I’m absolutely delighted. I can’t thank everybody at the club for their effort and hard work, particularly our supporters.
“We have to look at this year as just a really great effort from everybody. Finishing third is a major accomplishment in a difficult year. The team is in a good place and I’m very excited about Saturday’s game.”
Do you this is vindication for spending money early in the season?
RG: “We haven’t gotten a break, like any other club, from Covid. It’s cost the club money but ultimately we’ve navigated that reasonably well.
“We’re not in a bad place, but at the same time we were able to make key investments in our squad. We’ve put a lot of our focus, just on the first team, and I think that’s really worked to our advantage.
“We have several players, including Kevin Nisbet, for example, who’s just made the Scottish squad for the Euros, as an investment that was a positive one. Paul McGinn also came in during this period. All in all, I think we’ve made some important additions to the team and to some degree it’s been vindicated in the sense that we finished third, but it was all good.”
Do you still feel you may have to sell one or two players this summer?
RG: “I think we play this by ear. Our number one priority is to be competitive. We don’t want to sell players at the expense of being a competitive team.
“Sometimes opportunities will present themselves and we’ll have to take it case by case. I guess we have to balance the needs of the club, the financial value that is being ascribed to a particular player, and last, but not least, the player themselves.
“Because many players, as I see it, have a 10-15 year career and for them to move to a bigger club, is a wonderful opportunity to earn more money and we want to be supportive of that and we want to be supportive of their growth.
“I think in the past Hibs have been very quick to sell and we want to be very judicious as to how we move in that market. Not ever at the expense of being competitive.”
Will there be money for Jack Ross to spend?
RG: “I would think that there would be. Let’s see how we finish. We’ve got a big game on Saturday, but I think there is.
“We want to be more competitive. We want to grow, we want to build. We have a younger squad than we did a year ago, so that’s good. And we want to build on that.”
You brought Jack in when the team wasn’t doing so well. How impressed have you been with what he’s achieved in his first full season?
RG: “I am very impressed. I think Jack represents what Hibs wants to be.
“He’s very thoughtful, he’s very methodical. He’s very disciplined in his approach. He’s put together a great locker room.
“There’s a certain joy – you can see how much they are enjoying their football, and you have to ascribe some of that to Jack, because he’s been a terrific leader for them. And he’s been a great representative for the club so we’re very fortunate to have him.”
There will no doubt be eyes on him, are you of a mind to tie him down to a new deal?
RG: “I don’t want to give away all my secrets, but yes, let’s see. We’ll talk at the end of the season.
“Obviously, it’s an important conversation to have so I’m sure we will have it at the end of the season.
“We have a lot of really good people at the club. There’s been a lot of change at the club. People don’t realise how much change there has been. We’re trying to improve in every area.
“Certainly on the football side, we’ve made some important improvements as well and we’ll continue to do that.”
Before you took over at Hibs,I’m sure you will have seen the cup final scenes from 2016. How much did that play a part in your move?
RG: “Rod Petrie, the first thing he sent me was the video of Liam Henderson putting the corner in and David Gray scoring and I’m like ‘This is amazing’. And the crowd singing ‘Sunshine on Leith’.
“It was just a very emotional day for so many people. It spoke to the love that supporters have for their club, the history of the club and it’s hard not to fall in love with Hibs. It really is.
“It’s a fabulous club with great supporters. Leith itself, it’s just got a great energy to it.
“From my perspective it was just perfect. I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be a part of Hibs. And then, for us to be able to replicate that, or at least to be in a final.
“You know, we’ve been in four consecutive semi-finals, that’s big too. We have the young player of the year in Josh Doig, Kevin Nisbet is in the national team ,and to be in this cup final on Saturday, it speaks to the progress that we’re making.”
How are you going to watch the game?
RG: “I was going to get a couple of friends over but I might be too nervous! It will be early morning in the US, so we’ll have a little breakfast and watch the game with a small group of people, my wife and myself.
“That’s how we start our Saturdays, usually. I can’t wait to get back to Scotland. I spent three and half months there in the fall, from July to November. I’m looking forward to going back in June.
“We have a lot of work that we’re doing around various aspects of the club, so I’d like to go back and see how that’s moving along and help move it along.
“Once we can get supporters back into Easter Road, I think we should have one big celebration, because it’s been a terrific season on many fronts and I think it’s important for the supporters to share that with the players and the players to share that with the supporters.”
Whatever happens on Saturday, Hibs will be in Europe next season. How important is that for the club?
“It’s super important. Scotland, if you look at the co-efficient over the last three or four years or so is easily in the top 10.
“It’s fantastic that Rangers are going to be in the Champions League, and Celtic are going to be there. For us, I would love for us, and other clubs in Scotland to be able to advance in Europe more deeply than we have in the past.
“I think it’s a league that could be more pronounced in the European game so I’m hopeful that will be the case. We need to make investments and do the kind of things that can grow the club.
“Competing in Europe, should be an annual goal. We should be in Europe every year.
“Hopefully, there will be three, four, five Scottish teams in Europe being able to advance in the competition. Getting knocked out in the first round is not good, we need to be able to stay in the competition.”
Finally, how much pride is there that Hibs will have a representative at the Euros this year?
RG: “We’re very happy that Kevin came to Hibs, I think it’s the right club for him. There was a lot of interest in him earlier this year, happy that he stayed, because that, I think, has consolidated his position as an up and coming striker.
“He’s had a very, very good season. His first year at this level and he’s performed very well and I think he’s only going to get better.
“This is going to be great for him. I’m very excited and very proud of the work he’s done this year to get in to Steve Clarke’s squad.
“It’s fantastic. I hope he does really well at the Euros, but he has to do really well on Saturday first!”