‘Strategic partnerships’ with Brighton doesn't really exist, says Hibs chief Ben Kensell
So-called ‘strategic partnerships’ became part of the language and culture at Hibs during Graeme Mathie’s time as sporting director, but Ben Kensell hasn’t come across anything in his in-tray to suggest they amount to much.
The chief executive, appointed by owner Ron Gordon in the summer, has revealed that some of the ‘strategic partnerships’ announced before his tenure have not really come across his desk since he took over the day-to-day running of the club.
While acknowledging that there are strong working relationships with the likes of Civil Service Strollers and Stenhousemeuir, both of whom have Hibs academy players on loan, and the USL Championship side Charleston Battery, Kensell hasn’t seen any evidence of formal links and insists he has not had any dealings with Brighton at all.
The Easter Road club announced a ‘strategic partnership’ with Charleston Battery in November 2020 and followed it with similar announcements about Stenhousemuir a month later, Brighton in May 2021 and Strollers in June. They were the product Mathie’s “Yellow Brick Road” document, which plots out the steps a young player could take in their development.
Speaking on the hibs.net podcast, Kensell said: “Interestingly, I can’t really know how they work because they haven’t really been prevalent since I’ve been at the club. So I don’t know what was really agreed among clubs. I haven’t had anyone from Brighton reach out.
“There is a healthy sporting relationship there of course. I know the guys there and they are great. But I wouldn’t say there is a strategic relationship between the clubs. It was before more time, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that.
“We obviously have relationships with smaller clubs. That’s part of our player pathway and development with clubs where we can loan out players.”
He did, however, reveal that Charleston Battery officials have arranged to visit Edinburgh ‘shortly’ and emphasised that the American player market is one that the club are pursuing.
He added: “I think it’s a really interesting tie up. It’s clearly a market that we’re interesting in and we shouldn't shy away from that. There are some good players there. But at the same time [chief operating officer] Mike Kellechaer and the guys at Charleston Battery are a great football club and there’s a sharing of best practice.”