Bournemouth owner Bill Foley has held provisional talks aimed at investing in Hibernian, the PA news agency understands.
The American billionaire, who is also a minority shareholder in French club Lorient, spoke recently about his desire to expand his involvement in football into Scotland.
Hibs are currently owned by the family of Ron Gordon, who died earlier this year, and they have no desire to sell the club. However, they are open to the possibility of allowing Foley to come on board as a non-controlling investor, and discussions have already been held to that effect.
Foley sees an opportunity to help Hibs establish themselves as Scotland’s third force behind the traditional big two of Celtic and Rangers.
“I’m fascinated by the Scottish Premier League,” he told the Men In Blazers podcast in September. “They play hard, Scots are tough. They play a tough brand of football. And I believe there are opportunities to make one of the number four, five or six SPL (Scottish Premiership) teams, to get them to number three and they play in Europe.
“I believe we can pull that off with not a gigantic investment – and be a minority investor, be supportive of that club, and then work on sponsorship together because we have a whole sponsorship and I know we can help an SPL team. We’re working towards that goal right now with a particular team.
“Then we have our sights set on some other clubs. And I believe we could end up with four or five economic interests in clubs. We would then have a system in place for players to advance and move on to the next club, then the next club. We will have similar analytics staff in place, and technical directors, to look for the right type of players who can ultimately play for AFC Bournemouth.”
Foley’s move to invest in Hibs comes just as the Scottish Football Association looks into relaxing rules that ban an organisation or individual having a controlling stake in two clubs at the same time.
Hibs manager Nick Montgomery refused to discuss what he described as “speculation” when asked by BBC Scotland about the club’s talks with Foley prior to Tuesday evening’s Premiership match against Ross County.