Hibs chief: Jack Ross appointment was not rushed in order to beat Hearts

Leeann Dempster insists the decision was measured

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 9:27 am
Jack Ross took his first training session at Hibs Traning Centre and he was accompanied by his assistant John Potter who was appointed yesterday

Leeann Dempster has insisted the fact rivals Hearts were also searching for a new manager didn’t play any part in Hibs appointing Jack Ross as their new head coach less than two weeks after sacking Paul Heckingbottom.

Jack, axed by Sunderland early last month, found himself in demand as Craig Levein lost his job as manager and director at football at Tynecastle with Heckingbottom heading for the exit door on the other side of the city just a few days later having won just one Ladbrokes Premiership match this season.

The former Alloa and St Mirren manager quickly found himself tagged as among the frontrunners for both positions but, as Hearts owner Ann Budge continues her hunt for a new boss, Jack was handed a three-and-a-half year contract by Hibs, himself revealing he had been immediately impressed by their overtures.

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However, chief executive Dempster who, along with sporting director Graeme Mathie, spearheaded Hibs’ search for a third new head coach of the year, was adamant the fact Hearts were on the same mission had no bearing on her club’s decision.

“It is a unique set of circumstances where both clubs were looking for a head coach at the same time,” she admitted. “But it didn’t drive our timeline or determination any faster.

“It takes as long as it takes. We weren’t trying to get to the finish line before anyone else. Not having a head coach at a football club, irrespective of what people think, isn’t a comfortable place to be.

“You really don’t want that to be the case. You really want that person taking the team – so clubs don’t take these decisions lightly.”

Celtic coach John Kennedy had been strongly linked with the post but Dempster refused to discuss who other potential candidates might have been while also insisting Jack’s availability wasn’t a consideration in the timing of Heckingbottom’s sacking.

She said: “Lots of names were put to us in terms of who we did and didn’t speak to. We’ve never commented on those.

“It’s only fair for anyone in the process, whether the names were correct or incorrect, that we don’t comment on them. It’s fair to say we had a wide and varied number of conversations but we only spoke with a couple of people in earnest.

“I think we were lucky in a way that he was available to us and we could have a quick conversation but I don’t think that would have been a constraint on us to be honest.

“Availability had nothing to do with it. Most decisions aren’t driven by the availability of the candidates. It’s decisions that football clubs don’t want to take. People use words liked fired and sacked, these words have been shot at me in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s easy to say, but when you are actually having to have these conversations with people who you enjoy working with, and who have worked really hard for the club, you don’t take decisions like that lightly.”

And Dempster revealed that she quickly realised Jack was the outstanding candidate, claiming: “He fits us and we fit him. The club has to be right for that person as much as that person has to be right for the club, I certainly felt that when I met Jack. Obviously we knew him from his time in Scotland. I think he’s got lots of qualities that he’ll bring to the club – hopefully straight away this weekend.

“There’s an element where you know if you can work with somebody.

“Quite quickly you build an understanding and trust with somebody. Hopefully, in a relatively short period of time, we’ve started that. You really get a sense of an individual when you have proper conversations with them and with Jack it’s been all positive. He wants to be part of this club and we are all looking forward to his first game here on Saturday.”