Hibs fans who want Rod Petrie ousted from their club have been urged to meet at Easter Road Stadium a week today for a mass protest against the under-fire chairman.
The Petrie Out movement – a gathering of many of the club’s most prominent supporters’ groups – met in the Hibs Supporters’ Club at Sunnyside yesterday to firm up plans to remove Petrie from power in the wake of the club suffering relegation to the Championship.
Petrie has already vowed to step aside and let new chief executive Leeann Dempster, who starts her new job on Monday, take full control of the running of the club. However, Petrie would still remain on the board, in a non executive role and disgruntled fans feel that as long he remains involved with the club he will still be liable to want an input in key decisions.
The fans’ chiefs behind the Petrie Out movement are due to meet Dempster at 11.30am at Easter Road next Saturday and they have called on their fellow supporters to turn out en masse and show the new chief executive that they no longer have trust in the club while Petrie remains a presence.
Paul Kane, the spokesman and figurehead for the group, is adamant that supporters can get their wish.
“I don’t know how he will respond to it, but one thing is for sure – with the emotions that were shown here today we will get what we want,” said Kane.
“We think this is a crucial time in the club’s history and that without Rod Petrie being here Hibs would be a better club. And if he thinks Leann Dempster is that good – and he’s already said she will be given all the ropes – then he can walk away.”
Kane has sympathy for Dempster being catapulted into such a toxic situation, but the hope among the protesting group is that she will feel the need to ask Petrie to leave when she sees the depth of feeling against the chairman.
“She is very unfortunate to come in and be caught in a crosswind,” said Kane. “If she is such a good person and can do such a good job, we will give her a chance but we feel she can do even better without Rod Petrie being there.
“For years, Rod Petrie has made all the decisions to do with the football club. Some have been good, other have been terrible. The demise is now. We are in the Championship, where we shouldn’t be.
“We are speaking to Leeann next Saturday and that’s why I’m asking for a peaceful rally to show support for our campaign. If she sees the numbers I’m expecting, she’ll have a major decision to make.
“We are told she will be in complete control, so she should be able to make that decision.
“I think it would be a very silly business person or chief executive who would see fans outside in their thousands, who bring two thirds of the money into the club, that ignores them.
“The fans will always get what they want because they are the lifeblood of the club. I think the pivotal moment of our campaign will be next Saturday.
“The fans at this meeting today are all for it. But we need to know what the whole Hibs support thinks. Is that what they want? And if they do then it will happen, it has to happen.”
Kane was adamant that the group have no urge to protest against owner Sir Tom Farmer or manager Terry Butcher, although he did explain that they have further plans in the pipeline in the event that they get their wish of ousting Petrie. “I didn’t want to go down that route [of questioning Farmer],” said Kane. “This is stage one, we have got a stage two and stage three.
“Once stage one is completed stage two will come out. If it isn’t completed then there won’t have to be a stage two or stage three. Once we get Rod Petrie out that will be stage one and then I can tell you about stage two. There is a plan there. It’s not just Rod Petrie out and we walk away. It’s Rod Petrie out and then stage two comes into effect. Of course Sir Tom Farmer could make the decision himself [to axe Petrie] and you would have to ask him why he hasn’t done so yet. I didn’t want this to be diluted with Tom Farmer and the football side.
“The meeting here today is to get rid of Rod Petrie because we think he has made major decisions that have affected the club to reach the demise we are at today.”