Hibs today snubbed an approach by the Petrie Out group to stage their protest against Rod Petrie inside Easter Road Stadium.
Paul Kane – the leader of the campaign to oust the under-fire chairman – revealed that an email had been sent to new chief executive Leeann Dempster requesting permission to be allowed into the stadium to hold their rally at 11.30am this Saturday.
The former Hibs player said: “The paramount thing is that whoever turns up feels comfortable – we want it to be controlled. We want to protest in a dignified manner, show respect to Hibs and to Leeann Dempster. We emailed Leeann yesterday to ask if the club would let us use the stadium for health and safety reasons. We want it to be a family day out and if there is a big crowd,we’d rather people were allowed in the stadium.”
However, a Hibs spokesperson told the Evening News: “We will not be allowing use of the stadium. We have not been given enough information about the rally, who is coming, how many people are coming, what will be happening etc. In addition, we have ongoing pitch and stadium maintenance work being undertaken throughout the summer which we need to get done in a very short window.
“There is also the issue of paperwork. Because it is not a match, we would need to apply for a safety certificate and insurance, so it is not something we can accommodate.”
Kane has been encouraged by the response to the campaign. He said: “The reaction has been very positive and by the numbers saying they’re coming, hopefully we’ll get a good turnout.
“We’ve also had a lot of lapsed supporters who haven’t been along for a few years who are saying they’re coming along to the protest.”
Supporters who back the campaign but are unable to make Saturday’s rally have been encouraged to hand their season-tickets in to count as a vote of no confidence in Petrie.
“People who can’t make the rally are asking what they can do to aid the protest,” said Kane. “We’ve said to those people that they can hand their season ticket in to either the Four In Hand pub on Easter Road or the Hibs Supporters Association at Sunnyside and that will count as a vote against Rod Petrie.”
Kane, entitled to attend the Working Together fans’ meeting with Dempster as a member of the Hibs Former Players Association (HFPA), is pondering remaining outside in order to co-ordinate the protest. “It might be that I decide to stay out of it and lead the campaign,” he said. “Either way we (HFPA) have a representative in the meeting in the shape of Maurice Dougan.”
Kane believes Hibs fans who want Petrie out must seize this opportunity to show the depth of feeling against the chairman.
He said: “This movement could shape the future of the club for years to come. It’s a really big moment for the club. The fans have a voice and they’ve got to make a choice. The more people that turn up, the stronger our protest will be.
“If we get the numbers turning up, it will show that the fans have a strong voice, not just for the Rod Petrie scenario, but also for similar situations in the future.
“If the strength of the Hibs support is there, it will be there forever. If they don’t turn out in numbers, then obviously it dilutes our voice.
“I would say to anyone who cares about what we’re trying to do, please turn up on Saturday.”