Leeann Dempster was offered chance to walk away from Hibs

Leeann Dempster and Rod Petrie
Leeann Dempster and Rod Petrie
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Rod Petrie today revealed how new chief executive Leeann Demspter was given the chance to walk away from Hibs with no-one being any the wiser.

Dempster was quietly recruited from Motherwell where her work at Fir Park had been hugely admired, the plan being she would help bring into place the radical restructuring of the club which was being discussed at boardroom level, moves which have only become apparent in recent weeks although they’d been initiated almost a year ago.

She was doing so, however, on the premise she would be joining a Premiership club. But Hibs’ shock relegation under former boss Terry Butcher threw an entirely different light on the job she had agreed to take.

Petrie said: “I felt a responsibility having recruited Leeann. The proposition was everyone expected us to be a Premiership club and I actually gave her the opportunity – no-one knew she was coming on board – to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

“She never took a backward step. She’s hugely excited and passionate about what’s happening at the football club.”

Having been seen as being distant and disengaged with their support, Petrie insists Hibs’ whole tone has changed over the past year, the seeds for change sown through the “Let’s Work Together” groups which met on a regular basis to discuss how the club and its support could move forward as one.

The Hibs chairman said: “We actually have a new philosophy, a whole new outlook to things. A number of conversations were had, strategic group work was done, the board received presentations and, while people might have thought nothing was happening, that groundwork set the tone for change.

“We have a totally different mindset now. That’s a bit driven by Leeann but she came into a narrative, to a direction of travel, to a plan that was being talked about.

“We’re trying to be more engaging with the supporters and the community, realising we have great infrastructure that is under utilised, that it can be better utilised in a very cost effective manner.

“There’s fantastic things that can be done but actually it helps the football club, fundamentally helps us to be able to create more resource for growth on the pitch.”

While Dempster decided to sack Butcher she was also instrumental in recruiting his replacement Alan Stubbs.

Petrie revealed: “I know through the SFA he was top of the class in terms of the Pro licence group he did. We knew he was a talented guy, he had a lot of opportunities but he put his faith in us and we put our faith in him.”