Neil Lennon will enjoy the biggest budget of any Hibs manager, chief executive Leeann Dempster has revealed.
Dempster, however, insisted it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to the recent uproar caused by the Easter Road boss claiming he was reconsidering his position and questioning the ambition of the Capital club after they took fourth place in the Premiership table in what was their first season of top-flight football in four years.
Lennon caught everyone by surprise following a derby defeat by city rivals Hearts which ended Hibs ‘hopes of finishing runners-up to Celtic.
However, reports of crisis talks and summit meetings in the wake of that outburst were, Dempster insisted, wide of the mark with plans already in place for the coming season while the head coach himself has disclosed he turned down the chance to spend some surplus funds during the January transfer window believing his squad was already strong enough.
Dempster said: “Our view is that we make good, well thought-through decisions. We try not to do anything spur of the moment or reactionary where possible. We’ve had a really strong budget for the last four seasons and we will continue to have a really strong budget going into next year based on the excellent budget and work we have done this year.
“I would go as far as to say last year, and definitely this year, the football budget will be the biggest the club has ever had. I can say that with some certainty. That includes what we are actually spending on players and importantly – and I think it is for folk to understand this – the support, staff, expertise that help fuel the club and in particular around places like the academy and medical and sports science. Stuff like that.
“There is ambition here, but we balance where we spend our money. We are going to spend more again on the pitch undoubtedly, and more at the back end of the club.”
While a question mark remains over the future of midfielder Dylan McGeouch, who has so far refused offers of a new contract, Hibs saw four loan players return to their parent clubs, although talks are on-going in the hope of having strikers Flo Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren, midfielder Scott Allan and winger Brandon Barker return next season.
A deal has been struck and a fee agreed with Kamberi’s Swiss club Grasshoppers Zurich leaving the player to negotiate personal terms, but Lennon has admitted luring the other three back may prove more difficult.
That issue aside, Lennon is also looking to strengthen his squad but, insisted Demspter, the money available to do so will be spent wisely. She said: “We have been in the transfer market since I came to the club.
“We have paid transfer fees for a number of players but they have been measured and, I think, appropriate for where we have been at the time and that will continue to be the case.
“You are never going to see us go out there and make a ridiculous bid for a player. Any time we make a transfer bid it is because we have researched and believe that player has something absolutely material to bring to the team and the potential is there to allow that player a platform for a couple of years to then go on for his betterment – and ours.”