Farmer delivers a passionate defence of the chairman

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Hibs owner Sir Tom Farmer has delivered a scintillating defence of Rod Petrie, declaring the beleagured Easter Road chairman as “the best we could possibly have”.

As the majority shareholder in the Capital club, Sir Tom attended last night’s AGM at which Petrie and his fellow directors came under intense questioning from anxious supporters.

Outside, a small demonstration called for Petrie’s head while inside the Famous Five Stand one irate fan insisted the chairman, who had earlier revealed he was no longer receiving a salary from the club, should look at his own position, questioning how long it would take Sir Tom to fire an underachieving employee at any of his other businesses.

Sir Tom listened intently throughout the 95 minutes or so of debate before taking the microphone to address what was a bigger than usual gathering of shareholders, a number which reflected the concerns currently being felt.

In a typically rousing address, the entrepreneur insisted he had found it “fascinating” to have sat at the back of a room filled with people who shared one common goal, success for Hibs.

He said: “Everyone share that desire, I have it, Rod Petrie has it. He is the finest chairman that we could possibly have.

“One person asked if I would put up with somone not pulling his weight and that’s 100 per cent right. I would not. But in the years since 1964 since I opened that shop in Buccleuch Street I wish I had had a team of Rod Petries.”

Earlier Sir Tom had heard Petrie’s voice break with emotion as he discussed the question of players misbehaving, particularly as he talked of the support he felt Hibs should give striker Garry O’Connor who, he pointed out, was dealing with issues arising from before his summer return to Easter Road. Sir Tom said: “He has a passion for the club that is not recognised.

“You have seen the man speak with true emotion, He cares about the club, the players.”

Sir Tom also admitted he’d be willing to accept outside investment in Hibs – but only if it were of obvious benefit to the club, telling shareholders: “Everything I do and everything your directors do is for the benefit of the club. No-one conciously makes a mistake or makes a bad decision.”