Hibs chief exec aims to sway protesters

Leeann Dempster
Leeann Dempster
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New Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster hopes to win over some of the Petrie Out brigade by proving that she has full autonomy for the running of the club.

On Saturday morning, at the end of a tough first week in her new role, Dempster met with the Working Together fans’ umbrella group, who made their feelings about the under-fire Rod Petrie clear at the same time as a rally was taking place against the chairman outside Easter Road’s main stand.

She said: “There were some people in the meeting with some strong feelings, there’s no point denying that. There was also strong feeling outside, with people making some noise, as is their right. I don’t think it was appropriate for me to go out and speak to the people outside while the meeting was going on, but hopefully I’ll get to meet many of them in the weeks ahead. I understand the fans’ positions and I hope I can flip some of those positions in terms of the autonomy I’ve been given.

“If we strangle ourselves with this one-ticket item [about Rod Petrie] we won’t move forward.”

Dempster confirmed that she simply can’t do what the fans want and axe Petrie. “How can a chief executive remove a chairman? It’s a process. There is a board of directors here like any other business and everybody has a vote. It brings a very simplistic perspective – and I don’t mean that to be taken in a derisory way. There is a lack of understanding over how a board operates.”

Mike Riley, who was in the meeting in his capacity as Hibs Supporters’ Association chairman, believes Petrie simply has to leave in order for Dempster to be given the best chance of reviving the club.

He said: “Leeann came across very well, but all 31 of us [fans’ representatives] in the meeting – and it was unanimous – made it clear that her job could be a lot easier and she could have a lot more money to spend on players if Mr Petrie goes. If he doesn’t go, it’s virtually impossible to persuade the 5-6000 fans that haven’t bought their season tickets to come back because they’re so adamant that they won’t be back until Petrie goes.”