Terry Butcher is set to find out in the upcoming week if he will remain as Hibs manager.
Pressure has mounted on the Englishman in the wake of relegation to the Championship a fortnight ago and as yet there has been no definitive statement from the club on whether or not he will be retained.
New chief executive Leeann Dempster had the chance to quell any uncertainty in an interview given to prominent supporter Grant Stott on the club’s website.
However, when asked about the manager’s future, she declined to confirm that he would keep his job, instead explaining that things would become clearer once she had met Butcher next week for a chat about the best way forward for the club. “I met Terry for the first time in the capacity of him being the Hibernian manager last week when I went to the training facility,” she said. “At that time, emotions were very high and relegation had just happened.
“I was still CEO of Motherwell at that point, so no decisions or formal discussions could take place. So Terry went off to finish his family holiday and has since come back. We’ve spoken on a few occasions since and there are plans to meet Terry next week.
“Once we’ve had that conversation and we’ve come to a conclusion on the direction of the club, I can come out and talk. But it was far too early to say I would do anything at that point and, as my previous role was still intact, it wasn’t appropriate either.”
Whoever is in charge, Dempster insists they will have a competitive budget for replenishing a depleted squad for what she hopes will be a Championship promotion push. She also has big plans to galvanise the entire club and hopes to put her own stamp on Hibs in the same way she did with Motherwell, re-engaging with supporters and building solid links with the community. She spoke of her desire to see more kids in the area wearing Hibs strips.
And she is hellbent on doing things her way. “I’m picking up the baton, if you like, and it’s me that is going to have to take that responsibility,” she said. “We’ve got a board of directors, we operate independently, and part of my viewpoint here is we have to start acting more like a football club than a corporate entity, and that is the direction I want to take us in.
“Is it going to be my way forward? Categorically. I can be asked that question any number of times and it will be the same answer and I have to be judged on that. Let’s be frank, Hibernian hasn’t had the best on-field results in the last couple of years. We haven’t performed the way we need to. I saw an opportunity to come in and improve on that.
“I wasn’t going to walk away from a job where I had complete autonomy, the absolute support of the chairman to do the job that was required, the absolute support of the board to do the job required, to walk into another post where my hands were going to be tied. I think I’ve got enough integrity and, I would certainly hope, reputation that people would know I wouldn’t do that.”
Dempster first agreed to join Hibs when they look all but assured of remaining in the Premiership. She was stunned to see her new club drop into the Championship and as a result of that catastrophic end to the season, she has spent the bulk of her first official week at the helm firefighting as the fallout from relegation has continued.
She was due to meet representatives of prominent supporters’ groups at Easter Road this morning amid an awkward situation as fed-up fans staged their protest against chairman Rod Petrie outside. “It’s not been as I anticipated, let’s put it that way,” she admitted. “It’s been a challenging first few days, quite possibly the most challenging a new CEO could face, but I’m not fazed by it. We find ourselves in a very challenging position and we need to refocus.”