Hibs chief Dempster hits back at Rudi Skacel “refugee” claim

Leeanne Dempster is pictured with the Commemorative Cup, which recognises winners of the Scottish Cup
Leeanne Dempster is pictured with the Commemorative Cup, which recognises winners of the Scottish Cup
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Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster has hit back at Rudi Skacel’s claims he was subjected to racial abuse at Easter Road, telling the former Hearts star that players also have a responsibility to conduct themselves properly.

The Czech attacker insisted his “5-1” gesture to home fans during Raith Rovers’ visit on Christmas Eve was in response to being called a “a refugee” by children, their parents and even old ladies – describing the taunts as an embarrassment “for the whole Hibs community”.

Rudi Skacel gestures to the Hibs fans as he is substituted. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Rudi Skacel gestures to the Hibs fans as he is substituted. Pic: Ian Georgeson

But Dempster was adamant she hadn’t heard anything on the day of that 1-1 draw in which Skacel was substituted 16 minutes from time and revealed no complaint had been made by either Skacel or his club at the time.

And, while insisting unacceptable conduct by supporters was taken very seriously by the Capital club, Dempster added that should also apply to players.

Hibs midfielder Dylan McGeouch claimed after the game that Skacel, who had been booked for a crude tackle on Hibs skipper David Gray, was lucky to escape a second yellow card for his inflammatory gesture on being replaced. Skacel, 37, declined an invitation to speak to the press following the match when he’d have had a chance to immediately air his grievance. Dempster said: “I read the comments [of Skacel] and, after reading them, I took the opportunity to look at the official match documents of the SPFL, and speak to our safety officer.

“And it was confirmed that nothing was reported to us. I certainly wasn’t aware of anything on the day and did not hear anything.

“However, if Rudi feels he would like to make a complaint to the club then he is free to do that. We take any unacceptable conduct very seriously from any of our supporters. Equally, I would say that applies to players as well.

“There’s nothing I can see that reports anything happening on the day. However, there is a responsibility on fans and players on how they conduct themselves.”

Meanwhile, Dempster revealed Hibs have not “completely ruled out” bringing Kris Commons back to Easter Road after the Celtic midfielder enjoyed a 28-day emergency loan with the club.

She said: “We have spoken to Celtic about the possibility of that happening and there may be some opportunity there. That is a conversation we will continue to have directly with the club and the player to see if we can take it to a conclusion. It is probably too early to say one way or another.”

Reaching an agreement which takes into account the 33-year-old’s hefty wage packet at Celtic Park is an obvious obstacle but Dempster insisted she’d never envisaged this transfer window being overly busy.

She said: “We are fairly happy with the squad that has been assembled. The players have been brilliant and we now have a squad that is finding consistency. Neil [Lennon] wanted to add something on the right-hand side and something different on the left from an attacking perspective.

“We did that by bringing Chris Humphrey in on the right and we had Kris on the left. The window does not shut until the 31st and my experience is that there is always something more to come, another opportunity.

“However, if nothing else happens, I will not be disappointed with the work we’ve done in January.”