Terry Butcher has been cleared to speak to Hibernian – but Inverness have vowed to fight to keep their manager.
Caley Thistle confirmed yesterday afternoon they had received an official approach from their Scottish Premiership rivals, who have been looking for a new manager since Pat Fenlon quit on Friday, and accepted Butcher’s desire to speak to Hibs chairman Rod Petrie.
But they hope he remains loyal to the club as he did in January when he rejected a more lucrative offer to take over at Championship club Barnsley.
Inverness and Hibs meet at Easter Road on league business on Saturday but it is unclear whether Butcher will even be there as the Edinburgh club stated they have asked Jimmy Nicholl to continue as caretaker manager for the game.
Inverness chairman Kenny Cameron, who angrily hit out at reports that claimed the move was a done deal on Monday, last night said: “Terry has been informed of the situation and has expressed an interest in meeting with Hibs officials.
“The club has, with great reluctance, granted him permission to do so. We will, however, continue to do everything possible to ensure that Terry remains our manager.”
Butcher last week led Caley Thistle to their second League Cup semi-final against Hearts in two seasons and they sit third in the league, three places above Hibs. Cameron added: “Given our current position in the SPFL and the fact that once again we have a cup semi-final to look forward to, it is inevitable that if any managerial positions arise, our manager will be on the wanted list.
“We have a game on Saturday and it’s important that our club’s focus is on taking three points to maintain our challenge at the top of the league.
“As with the Barnsley approach in January, we will be making no further comment until we’re fully aware of the outcome of discussions.”
Hibs insisted their approach had been made in the correct manner and do not look set to push for Butcher to take charge of their team this weekend, despite bidding to secure the former England and Rangers captain in the long term.
Petrie met with the current coaching team yesterday, and a club statement read: “Hibernian FC today confirmed that following an approach, chairman to chairman in the appropriate manner, permission has been received late this afternoon to speak to Terry Butcher regarding the vacant managerial position at the club. Hibernian FC is grateful to Inverness CT FC for granting permission.
“Both clubs have an important league match on Saturday with three vital points at stake.
“Chairman Rod Petrie met Jimmy Nicholl at the Hibernian Training Centre this morning and confirmed that Jimmy and the backroom staff should prepare the team this week and take the match on Saturday.”
Hibs’ move for Butcher was predicted within hours of Fenlon’s resignation in the wake of their 1-0 League Cup derby defeat by Hearts last Wednesday. Nicholl took charge on Sunday as Hibs lost 1-0 at Motherwell.