HUNDREDS of supporters vented their anger outside Easter Road last night after Hibs were relegated from the Scottish Premier League.
Police mounted a guard at the entrance to the main stand as stunned supporters demanded club chiefs appear to give them an explanation.
Hibs’ shock defeat after a penalty shoot-out leaves the Capital without representation in the top flight of Scottish football for the first time since the Scottish league was established 125 years ago, following the relegation of Hearts too.
They will face a tough fight to get straight back into the top flight as they compete for two potential promotion spots in a league which also features the newly promoted Rangers.
The bulk of the anger outside Easter Road was directed at club chairman Rod Petrie with fans chanting for his resignation and that of manager Terry Butcher. Some threw their old season tickets to the ground, while others openly cried as the reality of the drop from the Premier League for the first time in 15 years sunk in.
They were critical not only of the poor showing on the day but at the decline in the club’s fortunes David Burns, 26, from Drylaw, said: “There was no heart - none at all. No passion. The same as the full season. We sacked Pat Fenlon and since we sacked him, we’ve gone down the way.
“Petrie needs to resign. I’ve been saying this for three or four years now.
“Hibs won the cup 2007 and Collins asked to buy four players. He got no backing from the board, then left and since then, it’s been a downward spiral. I’ll still be here next year but something needs to change.”
There was tension in the air as fans angrily insisted that those in charge came out and speak to them.
Simon Jones, 34, from Stenhouse, said: “Petrie should have the decency to come out and speak to us – five, ten seconds, that’s all we want. He’s in there hiding.
“There’s no passion in the team anymore. “I’m feeling angry at the moment – embarrassed and angry. Hearts have been deducted all those points and they could have finished above us.”
Dean Lawrie, 23, from South Queensferry, said: “Petrie and the board have to come out and be a man – face up to what they have got to say.
“They need to be saying sorry to the fans.”
There was widespread criticism of Butcher, but mixed feelings about whether he should stay or go even among those protesting outside the ground.
Brian Pendrigh, 16, from Leith, said: “Butcher and Petrie are not worth anything.
“Butcher has pretty much messed it up. The play today was terrible – well and truly. We need to get rid of Petrie and Butcher.
“I am raging – really angry.”
Derek Milligan, 45, from Clermiston, said: “What I would say is stick with Terry. We are where we are. We cannot go back – we must go forward.
“Just have a wee bit of faith and once [new chief executive] Leeann Dempster comes in, she will make changes. She will go right through the whole club and there will be changes.”
Margaret Milligan, 67, also from Clermiston, said: “Obviously we are gutted at the moment. I feel that we have to stick by the manager that we have got. You cannot chop and change managers - that’s not the answer.
“We have to move forward and as much as we don’t like being down there, that’s where we are and we have to take it from there.”
Emma Watson, 19, from Sighthill, said: “We spend money on stands and training complexes but we do not put a team on the park.
“I would say I am gutted but I am not surprised.”
Supporters’ association holds crisis meeting
THE Hibs Supporters’ Association is to hold an “urgent meeting” about the crisis at the club today.
Chairman Mike Riley, said: “To start with, I am numb, devastated.
“I cannot believe that after Wednesday night, we can come out and put in a performance like we did today. We only got what we deserved.
“Mr Petrie and his board have to look at themselves and, seriously, must consider resigning. Mr Butcher, Mr Malpas must look at themselves as well and they should really resign.
“We were fifth in the league when they took Hibs over and now we are relegated.
“I do not know [incoming chief executive] Leeann Dempster and it’s hard to criticise someone you don’t know. I’m worried for her as she’s coming in and it’s an absolute shambles just now.
“We have to have somebody that’s looking at the football side of it. We need a director of football – somebody that has a wee bit of standing in the community and the football arena who can come and whip Hibs into shape.”
Massive knock-on effect
A FOOTBALL finance expert said today Hibs relegation would have a massive knock-on effect for the club and Scottish football. He said one of the first steps to be taken would be to cut costs at Easter Road to maintain financial stability.
Neil Patey of Ernst and Young said: “There will be reduced payments from media incomes, reduced average attendances and an impact when it comes to going to sponsors and selling hospitality.
“Rod Petrie will have to have contingencies to cut costs. The biggest part will be reducing players’ wages. Rod has run a very tight ship over many years. I think he will ensure they don’t get into financial difficulties. It will mean some very tough decisions but I expect Rod to be able to make those decisions.”
Mr Patey said that the relegation of Hibs and Hearts from the Premier League would also have wider repercussions.
He said: “You’ve got three clubs who have among the biggest average attendances in Scottish football absent from the top tier. That is going to have a negative impact.”