Hibs CEO Leeann Dempster on club's coronavirus plans - players told to stay off-site, ticket situation, Easter Road events

Dempster backed the SFA and SPFL’s decision to postpone football
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Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster has backed the Scottish FA and SPFL’s joint response group’s decision to postpone football and confirmed players will be “off-site” for the next week.

The Hibees were due to host St Johnstone at Easter Road in a clash with ramifications for the top six this afternoon and as of Friday morning it was set to go ahead.

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Yesterday, however, The SFA and SPFL confirmed that all football in the country would be postponed “until further notice”.

Hibs chief Leeann Dempster has provided supporters with a coronavirus update. Picture: SNSHibs chief Leeann Dempster has provided supporters with a coronavirus update. Picture: SNS
Hibs chief Leeann Dempster has provided supporters with a coronavirus update. Picture: SNS

It was a decision Dempster agreed with as the country deals with an “unprecedented” situation.

She told the club’s website: “I think everyone’s just been looking at what’s happening worldwide. Other sporting events have been cancelled and, if I’m honest, there was an expectation that football would be next. That’s proven to be the case and, for me, that’s the right decision. Football’s come to the right decision because nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of the nation.

“We used the word ‘unprecedented’ and it absolutely is.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next week or so but we’re trying to do everything we can as a club to prepare ourselves for that. That means the larger staff group at Easter Road and the players. We’ve had a direct line to the SPFL, the Scottish FA and the Scottish Government. We feel well informed and like we’ve been part of the conversation.”

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She added: “Football is important in everyone’s life but it’s not the most important thing in everyone’s life. We’ve no issues at all with the decision. We’re supportive of it.”

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Dempster spent time with the players and staff at the Hibernian Training Centre on Friday helping them “organise their lives” as she protocols were put in place.

Players have been instructed to stay “off-site” for the next week but Dempster revealed that it is a precautionary measure rather than someone at the club being required to self-isolate.

“It’s about keeping the wheels of the club turning, so the players will be ready for when they come back,” she said.

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“Up here at Easter Road, we don’t have any matches to prepare for but the stadium is a big part of the community with a lot of events taking place. We’re doing our best to try and deliver some of those events. For example, we have exams taking place within the stadium next week – as we do fairly often – and we want to make sure we don’t disappoint there.

“There will be other things we don’t do, regrettably, like the Football Memories project. It might not be right to get a group in who may have some underlying health conditions. Scott Allan was due to do an event with some young people around diabetes. Rightfully, we’ve cancelled that. It’s changing all the time. What’s right today might not be right tomorrow.”

Dempster has asked supporters for patience the ticket situation with fans having bought briefs for upcoming matches, including against St Johnstone, and thousands others with season tickets.

“I’d ask supporters to bear with us on that. We need to organise ourselves. This is normally when season tickets would go on sale and we’d actually planned to do that this week. We’ll be revisiting that because the income around that is important to us but clearly we’re now doing that in a difficult environment.

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“We’ll come back and talk to supporters about all of that next week. I’d ask supporters just to give us a little bit of time and space. We’re trying to organise the larger staff group, their lives and priorities. We’re not closing down but we’re trying to be pragmatic about people coming to their workplace.”