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Hibernian FC - A team in need of refurbishment

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With Hearts destined to drop down to the Championship, what does the future hold for their rivals Hibernian?

Manager Terry Butcher needs to perform some serious surgery to his squad in the summer. Hibernian cannot carry on applying a plaster to a gaping wound in terms of the deficiencies of their dressing-room. They need proper investment in their squad and it's going to take money, not the kind of ducking and diving they've been doing in the transfer market for too long.

The man charged with freeing up the cash is, of course, chairman Rod Petrie. The absence of Hearts from the Premiership next season is one that must surely fill him with dread given what the fixture means to the Hibernian' coffers - and their sales of season tickets.

The top two attendances at Easter Road this season have both been for the visit of Hearts - 20,106 and 16,797. Even the lower number is still 1,500 more than they got when Celtic played there. This is the way of it at Hibernian.

For Hibernian, there's going to be no Hearts next season, as well as no Rangers. Quite what impact this is going to have on the finances of the club is a question only Petrie can answer, but you'd have to think it has the potential to be grim.

Hibernian fans turn out in big numbers for the Edinburgh derby and then quickly evaporate. In October, there was a crowd of nearly 17,000 for the visit of Hearts, a number that plummeted to 8,750 for their next home game against Inverness.

It was the same story in January in the wake of that 20,000-plus derby. Hibernian got only 9,610 in the home game that followed, against St Mirren, and only 12,542 in the one after that, against Celtic.

In their two games at Easter Road against Gary Locke's team, the average crowd was 18,451. In their two against Celtic, it was 13,381. What incentive is there for a Hibernian fan to renew their season ticket if there is no Edinburgh derby to look forward to?

Many will, of course. But if even a small percentage decide not to then Petrie has a problem on his hands. He has to find extra money to bring in better players or he condemns the club to another season of joyless toil - and the continuing drop in their attendances that would come with it.

When Celtic lost Rangers, they immediately secured Champions League football as compensation. Once Hearts disappear from the top tier, Hibernian have no such option to plug the financial hole and maintain the interest of their fans.

There is comfort in the fact that some Hibernian players are coming to the end of their contracts and can be moved on without much fuss. The challenge comes in trying to replace them with the kind of quality that will make a difference, as Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne has allowed Derek McInnes to do at Pittodrie.

Petrie has been reluctant to push the boat out even when he had the finances associated with the Edinburgh derby at his disposal. You reap what you sow. At Pittodrie right now, they will tell you the truth of that maxim.

Unless, that is, Petrie twitches his moustache and magics up some money to create a team that will give the supporters more to crow about than the misery of others.


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Terry Butcher

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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