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A Stronger Scotland Part 4 – Titles and Tribulations

It’s been a highly successful first season with Premiership status secured for Hibernian. That’s one big club back in the top division, but it’s come at a cost.

Strengthening the Premiership

There’s no doubt in my mind that Hibs’ return to the Premiership will contribute to making the league more competitive. Hibernian have a history of challenging and winning titles in the top flight, and we’re back on course to reign in that kind of success once again. The bad news is that Rangers have faltered at the last hurdle. Having missed out on the automatic promotion spot they then faltered in the playoffs, losing out to Falkirk who in tern were eliminated by Inverness (who retain their Premiership status). We’ll have to wait another season at least before we see Rangers join us in the Scottish Premiership. Competitively and financially, it’s a big blow.

Scottish Championship end of season 1 league table (15/16)

Fizz guzzling board members

Still drunk on champagne from the title celebrations the board laid out their deluded expectations for the forthcoming season. We’ll be expected to finish in a European spot (top 3) and the board are backing us up with nothing, zilch, not a penny to spend on players. You can imagine my reaction, tables were turned over and things got ugly for a few minutes in a Brian Clough-esque rant. For our first season back in the Premiership I’d have been happy with a top half finish, so we’ll see how things pan out. I feel a wee bit more confident since our 4-0 thrashing of Celtic in a pre season friendly.

Over the course of the first season, though we didn’t spend, our finances gradually slumped to a negative balance. Prize money and TV rights have balanced the books for the new season, getting our balance up to around £700,000 with none of that available to spend. There’s been no investment from the board so my hopes are that a decent Premiership campaign can boost the finances through gate receipts, season ticket sales and prize money. I want to bring through some academy players but that’s hit a snag too. I’ll have to look to the loan market again, which isn’t ideal.

Youth development

Our plans to develop young talent in-house took a blow at the end of the season when the board announced this:

Due to technological advances, the club’s facilities no longer rank where they once did in the footballing world. The training facilities have been affected by these advancements.

The silver lining has definitely been the emergence of Ray Wedderburn from the academy. After the title was sealed with 3 games remaining I put him straight in to the senior squad to garner some first team experience. He repaid my faith with 1 goal, 1 assist and an average rating of 7.73. I’m excited to see how he develops over the next season.

Ray Wedderburn, Hibernian academy graduate

Temporary signings

The lack of funding I’ve been fortunate enough to extend the loan deals of Ryan Gauld, Anthony Stokes, Tomothy Fosu-Mensah, Alex Kiwomya and quite a few others. It’s not ideal, but I had little choice. Because these loans are from large clubs Ive been able to secure them without any contributions so at least they wont have a negative impact of the bank balance. My only permanent signing was the free transfer of Ben Garratt from Crewe, a talented young English goalkeeper with very high potential ability. Fortunately I extended contracts of some of our key players at the close of the first season, so I don’t to worry about players leaving unless I want to get rid or receive a very good offer.

I’m still holding on to a thin string of hope that one or two of these deals might become permanent sometime in the near future, particularly that of Ryan Gauld.

Tremendous trio

As well as the Championship title a number of player awards were taken by the Hibees. Darren McGregor, Jason Cummings and Anthony Stokes all make it in to the Scottish Championship team of the year. Jason Cummings also claims the Scottish Championship player of the year after a remarkable season scoring 36 goals from 36 starts, 9 assists and an average rating of 7.77. Comapre that to Leigh Griffiths, top scorer in the Premiership with 32 goals in 55 games, 9 assists and an average rating of 7.29.

Jason Cummings – Scottish Championship player of the year, season 1 (15/16)