Neil Lennon’s reign at Hibs is set to come to an end after the head coach was suspended by chief executive Leeaan Dempster.
Relations between Lennon and his players are understood to have become strained in recent weeks as the Easter Road club has slumped to eighth place in the Premiership table.
Lennon hasn’t held back from criticising them during a run which has brought just two wins in 14 league matches, his latest blast coming after Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat by Motherwell at Fir Park.
While insisting that he, as head coach, had to take responsibility for results and performances, he was adamant it was a “two-way thing” with players also needing to hold their hands up.
However, there was little indication earlier in the day as Lennon talked of the need to bring further new faces to the club – having already brought in midfielders Ryan Gauld and Stephane Omeonga during the current transfer window – of the sudden turn of events which took place late on Friday night.
It is understood that after a full and frank exchange with his players at their East Mains training centre, Dempster got involved.
The upshot was that Lennon was told he was to step aside pending a full club probe, meaning he won’t be in the away dug out as Hibs face St Mirren in Paisley on Sunday.
His assistant Garry Parker won’t be there either, with first-team coach Grant Murray and Eddie May, head of the youth academy, likely to be left in charge in testing circumstances both on and off the pitch.
Lennon has been in charge of Hibs for two-and-a-half years, taking over from Alan Stubbs only weeks after he’d guided the Capital club to their historic Scottish Cup triumph and leading them to the Championship title and promotion back to the top flight after a three-year absence.
In Hibs’ first season back, Lennon took them to within a whisker of second place, defeat by arch-rivals Hearts in the penultimate game resulting in them finishing fourth but winning a place in the Europa League.
Lennon is under contract until next year but given the dramatic turn of events, it seems highly likely he’ll be leaving Easter Road.
The timing couldn’t be worse for Hibs given their current position in the league and the fact the transfer window shuts in just a few days time, giving any potential successor - should one be appointed in that period - little scope to strengthen a squad Lennon described only yesterday as being “down to the bare bones” given the extensive injury list which has key players such as Lewis Stevenson, Martin Boyle, Ryan Porteous and Thomas Agyepong out of action at the moment.
Those in charge at Easter Road were remaining tight-lipped as in regard to the dramatic developments which will have left their thousands of fans dismayed, with calls from the Evening News remaining unanswered.