Hibs situation leaves Billy Brown fearful over coach job losses

Former Cowdenbeath manager 
Billy Brown. Picture: Craig Foy/SNSFormer Cowdenbeath manager 
Billy Brown. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Former Cowdenbeath manager Billy Brown. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Bleak future for game if clubs cut staff and academies

Billy Brown fears that the anticipated jettisoning of several Hibs coaches may trigger an avalanche of similar redundancies throughout the Scottish game as clubs struggle to weather the financial fallout from the Covid-19 crisis.

While there would be a personal toll paid by those targeted, the chairman of the Scottish League Managers’ Association says it would also spell trouble for the future of the game, if employers drain their academies of resources and staff.

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“It is a worrying time, especially when it is a club like the Hibs, which is one of our biggest clubs and best run clubs, who are, apparently, looking at getting rid of even first team coaches. If it is happening there then it is going to be happening elsewhere.”

The Easter Road club announced that they are consulting with staff as they look to scale back staffing levels, with chairman Ron Gordon stating: “We must now focus our limited resources on our core business and that is supporting our first team squad to deliver success on the pitch.”

While players, who have had between 20-50 per cent of their wages deferred during the shutdown, have been asked to now accept wage cuts, other departments are facing up to job losses, with coaches Grant Murray, Lee Makel and Colin Nish among the possible casualties.

“I am conscious it is going to be a very, very difficult situation for folk like that, who have put loads of effort in, even over the last three months, thinking they would still have a job at the end of it. But now they might not have that. It is a very, very difficult time for football, let’s be honest.

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“There are going to be a lot of coaches out of jobs because there are no jobs to go to, especially if more and more clubs start getting rid of them,” added the former Hibs assistant manager.

“There is not a good feeling around our game and that’s disappointing. When it came about, I thought we would all fight this crisis together and help each other as clubs and within clubs and we are not doing that. We saw that with the reconstruction thing – that would have helped just about everybody but clubs didn’t stand together and back it so we will now have to see what the outcome of that is for everyone. But it has not left a good feeling. And now we have this.”

Awaiting the outcome of Hibs’ consultation period, Brown says they can only hope that the coaches are treated fairly and that any impact on youth development will be fleeting. He added: “It is a difficult financial situation for football clubs and it looks like loads of people are going to lose their job and that is not good.

“I don’t know yet if all these Hibs boys have been told yet that they will lose their jobs. I don’t know if that will be the case until Hibs release a statement and until that consultation is over.

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“Maybe some coaches will be kept on lesser wages or maybe it will be made clear it is just temporary and that later in the season, when things have calmed down a bit, they will bring them back.

“I am hoping that if clubs do get rid of coaches or choose to claw back money from the academies that it could just be something that lasts for the next six months – which is bad enough – but then it starts up again. I would like to think that would happen. But if clubs are doing away with their youth policy or cutting back on coaches or mothballing academies then we could be looking at big problems in the future.

“The fact is Scottish football is in so much disarray at the moment and that would not help it recover.”

He is hoping that sense will prevail but he fears that those in charge of our clubs are struggling to see what is best.

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“We had the Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer thing, which is just wrong, so I do worry about clubs doing the right thing. They were the ones who voted for that. Now we are hoping they do the right thing by coaches and players and work together to get us out of this mess. But I’m not so sure any more. I thought that given the climate we are in everyone might pull together to get us out this rut, medical wise, financial wise, and do what is best for Scottish football but that hasn’t been the case so far. We seem unable to do that in this country.”

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