Rod Petrie has insisted he won’t quit as Hibs chairman, claiming it would be wrong for him to abdicate that responsibility at a “pivotal point” in the Easter Road club’s history.
Angry fans gathered outside the ground to demand that both Petrie and manager Terry Butcher resign after the Edinburgh club were relegated to the Championship, throwing away the two-goal lead they’d earned in the first leg of the Scottish Premiership play-off against Hamilton Accies before losing 4-3 on penalties.
But in a statement released on the club’s website in which he and Butcher apologised to supporters, Petrie, who has already announced he’ll be taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the club when new chief executive Leeann Dempster arrives next week, resisted those calls, adamant he will remain at the helm as non-executive chairman. Petrie said: “Let me start by saying that I am sorry for a dismal season on the pitch. The season started badly last July against Malmo in the Europa League and has finished even worse with relegation to the Championship. The manager and players know that performances have not been good enough. To lose the play-off at Easter Road after extra-time and penalties, having put ourselves in a great position, is a bitter pill for everyone to swallow.
“Supporters have turned up in numbers to support the team – 16,108 against Malmo and 18,031 here for the second leg of the play-off match. Supporters are suffering. All we can do is apologise and thank them for backing the team.
“Supporters are also quite rightly asking what we are going to do about it.
“We recognise that change is needed. The board and supporters agree that all of the work that has gone into the creating an infrastructure unrivalled outside Glasgow needs to be matched by consistent sporting success.
“Some supporters have suggested that I should resign as chairman. I take responsibility for the position that the club finds itself in. However, it would be wrong for me to abdicate that responsibility at this time and walk away and it would be wrong for the club.
“Having already announced a few weeks ago that I am handing over my executive responsibilities, it is in the best interests of the club for me to complete that transition to our new chief executive and to oversee the other far-reaching changes at the club as non-executive chairman.”
Butcher has already expressed his desire to put in place the “massive restructuring” he considers necessary while admitting that taking the blame for his team’s dismal results which had culminated in relegation had taken that situation out of his hands.
But according to Petrie the big Englishman looks certain to get that opportunity.
He said: “Leeann Dempster achieved spsorting success at Motherwell and will work closely with Terry Butcher as the club begins the task of assembling a competitive squad for next season. Leeann’s arrival is the first of a number of planned changes in the coming weeks and months.
“In essence, the summer will be a pivotal point in the long history of Hibernian, creating a new platform to take the club forward in a positive, energetic and sustainable way.
“In the meantime, I can only thank you for your unwavering support for the team and for your continual patience as we work towards implementing change.
“Without its supporters, the club is nothing. With the supporters, the club can again achieve great things.”