Neil Lennon absence ‘won’t stop Hibs making signings’

Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster
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Leeann Dempster today reassured Hibs fans that new boss Neil Lennon’s absence is in no way hindering the Easter Road outfit’s pursuit of summer signings.

Lennon was committed to a media stint with the BBC at the European Championships in France before being named the surprise successor to Alan Stubbs, revealing in his first press conference there were areas of the squad he’d be looking to strengthen.

And that process, chief executive Dempster revealed, is well under way with Lennon in daily contact with herself, head of football operations George Craig, and Graeme Mathie, head of player identification and recruitment.

Pointing out that “major surgery” wasn’t required given the vast bulk of the players Lennon has inherited remain under contract, she said: “To me it is a non-issue. The way communications are nowadays you can be anywhere in the world and yet it feels almost as if you are in the next room.

“The real work begins for Neil when the players walk back through the door and he meets them face to face and has a conversation with each of them, but it doesn’t stop us doing what we do in the background.

“It doesn’t make any difference to the structure we have in place – it doesn’t stop others doing their job. It’s not as if Neil has come into an empty dressing-room. We have retained the vast majority of our players. It’s inevitable players come and go but while, of course, Neil wants to put his own signature on things – and we are in agreement we need to bring players in – there’s not going to be major surgery but some.”

Dempster pointed to the strong and successful working relationship Stubbs and his management team enjoyed with Craig and Mathie, and believes there’s no reason to think anything will change, adamant it’s important to any club that the “core” of club operations stay positive and strong when change does come. She said: “We did a lot of work early last summer because we needed to. We got players coming out of contract on new deals and others coming in like John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch on four and three years respectively.”

Lennon has already said he doesn’t expect to put the finishing touches to his squad before Hibs play their first competive game of the season in the Europa League on July 14 with the Capital club set to find out who their opponents will be in Monday’s draw but Dempster says patience will be the key.

“Undoubtedly. there will be players coming, but we are not going to make quick and rash decisions,” she said.