Motherwell supremo Leeann Dempster is to become Hibs’ new chief executive, the first move in a shake-up at the Easter Road club with further changes planned in the near future.
Dempster will take over the day-to-day running of the club from June 1, although Rod Petrie will remain chairman on a non-executive basis.
Dempster will be given a free hand to implement the changes she feels are necessary to drive the Edinburgh outfit forward having built up an impressive reputation as a football leader during her six years at Motherwell, who are widely viewed as a model community football club.
Her arrival will be only the first piece of the jigsaw, with the Easter Road board having been conscious for some time of the need for change and a restructuring at the club as they’ve held regular “working together” sessions to gain feedback from fans on a variety of topics.
Greater supporter engagement allied to a cooperative effort between management, fans and members of the board to form views and opinions will be central to shaping how Hibs go forward, with Dempster highly regarded for the work she’s done in that regard at Fir Park who have also enjoyed greater success on the pitch than the Capital club in recent years.
Seen as energetic, dynamic and a “football club leader,” Dempster initially joined the Steelmen as general manager at the invitation of former chairman John Boyle, having been a marketing manager for his Zoom Airlines. She later became chief executive, playing a major role in helping turn Motherwell into a community club and a force in Scottish football since picking up the pieces after the club plunged into administration.
In a male-dominated environment, she’s become an influential figure within the SPFL and is also a member of the European Club Association’s marketing and communications board.
As chief executive at Easter Road, she will take responsibility for a wide range of activities and will have a big say in future strategy at Hibs both on and off the field. Petrie has been acting as interim chief executive since Scott Lindsay stepped down almost two years ago but, while he’ll now hand the day-to-day running of the club to Dempster, he will remain chairman on a non-executive basis of what will become a seven-strong board which already has one female member in lawyer Amanda Jones.
On the appointment, Petrie said: “We are delighted that Leeann is joining Hibernian. I am certain she will be a tremendously important ‘signing’ and will provide the daily leadership needed next season to help achieve the Board’s plans and meet the aspirations of supporters.
“Leeann is an outstanding football leader with a proven track record. In addition to a desire for sporting success, I know from our numerous discussions that there is a shared belief in the direction of travel towards increased involvement of supporters and greater community engagement.”
In a statement on the Hibs website, Dempster said: “I believe that to succeed in a sustainable way in the long term we need to grow club resources, re-engage lapsed supporters and strengthen the club collectively. As a big city club, Hibernian has a fantastic opportunity to build on the great physical assets and grow attendances through increased engagement and success on the pitch. I am looking forward to the challenge.
“There are a number of initiatives that we will be able to announce to supporters in due course and that will show we want to meet the shared ambitions of supporters. We want a vision that everyone can buy into so they can play their part in the future of our club.”