Leeann Dempster: Hibs only offered head coach job to Paul Heckingbottom
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster insisted nobody was offered the job of head coach other than Paul Heckingbottom.
Michael Appleton was widely tipped to take over early this week after caretaker boss Eddie May was told a new man had been lined up ahead of his final match in charge last Saturday.
But contract talks reportedly broke down and Heckingbottom was confirmed in the role late on Wednesday.
When asked if anybody else was offered the job, Dempster said: “No. You have got to give discretion to the candidates involved and the only candidate that I’m going to speak about is the candidate we ultimately appointed and ultimately we want to be the head coach here. I don’t think it’s right to go back and look at the process itself.”
Dempster also refused to speak in detail about Neil Lennon’s departure. The club released a statement announcing his departure by “mutual consent” after he missed a game against St Mirren amid reports he had been suspended.
Dempster said: “Neil had a terrific couple of seasons here. I think we were good for him and undoubtedly he was good for us. But we agreed a position, the club and Neil together, we said we wouldn’t speak about it. We haven’t been briefing behind the scenes and it’s going to remain that way.
“Everybody wants to know everything and at points, you can really only tell people the things you can tell them.
“Of course supporters want to know, but what they also want to know is that the club is moving forward and wants to move forward.
“If you want to win a popularity contest, don’t join a football club, let me tell you that for nothing. But people are here to make decisions. I have had to make a decision, you move forward and get on with it.”
The former Motherwell chief executive added: “Some of the speculation and some of the comments out there are outrageous, but when people don’t know they tend to surmise, and that has never been the best position.
“I’m here to lead the club and that means you make difficult and tough decisions and you have to live with those decisions.
“Our ambition hasn’t changed, we still want to operate at the highest levels we can. We have had a disappointing season but we still have the opportunity within our gift to turn that around.”
Dempster stated she had been well aware of Heckingbottom for some time.
“He’s young, ambitious, hungry, had success at Barnsley, had won a trophy and got promotion. When we started speaking it became obvious he would be a good fit for us.
“We never spoke to that many people because we were pretty clear on the type of coach we wanted.
“There’s been comments about being familiar or unfamiliar with the Scottish game. My personal view on that is it’s largely irrelevant. You get up to speed pretty quickly and importantly you have people around you who can help you get up to speed.
“I really think he can improve the players, make us better and take us into the next bit of history of the club.”