Neil Lennon is not surprised to hear Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster touted to succeed Stewart Regan at the SFA – but he doesn’t want to her to leave Easter Road.
The remarkable transformation Dempster has overseen at the Capital outfit, taking the helm when the club was at its lowest point following the humiliation of relegation in 2014, has not surprisingly resulted in her being tipped for the top job at Hampden after Regan quit following eight years in charge.
As such, said Lennon, she is highly-regarded within Scottish football and an obvious candidate at a time when a huge vacuum exists, Regan having lost the confidence of his fellow board members following his failure to land Michael O’Neill as Scotland boss, the lack of a new sponsor for the SFA and the uncertainty over the future of Hampden among other issues.
“I think it is incredible,” said the Hibs boss. “In this day and age the way football is run, the national team does not have a manager, it does not have a chief executive and I find that unbelievable. And, yeah, they don’t know where they will be playing games. I do wonder what is going on behind the scenes. I find it very strange.”
Whether Dempster would thrive in the committee structure given the free rein she has at Easter Road would be something to be considered but, having worked closely with her over the past 18 months as Hibs have returned to the Premiership where they sit fourth in the table, Lennon believes her name is worthy of discussion.
He said: “She made a very good chief executive at Motherwell and she has been an excellent chief executive at Hibernian. I don’t want here to go, obviously, as I have a very good professional relationship with her. But I can understand why her name has cropped up.
“She is smart, bright, forward-thinking and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly – she can handle me.
“We do have an understanding. She doesn’t come in and tell me who to play and what formation to play, but she does tell me the direction she wants to take the club, the structure of the club, the way it is set up and she has been very successful.
“She has made things very comfortable for me. She takes a lot on board and seems to handle it very, very well. The club has been a success more or less since she has come in and Motherwell were a big success when she was there. I think she is well thought of within the game.”
Meanwhile, Lennon revealed he could be facing an injury crisis for today’s Premiership clash with Rangers at Ibrox with Darren McGregor out with a hamstring problem and his fellow central defender Paul Hanlon another injury doubt. Midfielder Vykintas Slivka was another who will be missing having picked up an injury in the midweek win over Motherwell after which he hit out at the “scandalous” lack of protection for his players.
He said: “My concern is today is our fifth game in 13 days and it’s taking it’s toll on the squad. It’s been tough with games against the top two teams in the country and even the cup game was against Premiership opposition.
“I think the fixtures have been unkind to us. Some teams are two or three games behind us and I think that is ridiculous at this stage of the season.”