BOBBY Williamson has agreed to become the new manager of Hibs, subject to the Easter Road club agreeing a compensation package for his release from Kilmarnock.
With chairman Sir John Orr having granted his Hibs counterpart Malcolm McPherson permission yesterday to speak to Williamson, Kilmarnock are not expected to prevent the 40-year-old ending his 11-year association at Rugby Park as player, coach and, for the past five years, manager.
Williamson has already agreed personal terms with Hibs to succeed Franck Sauzee who was dismissed on Thursday just 69 days after replacing Alex McLeish.
Assuming Hibs can thrash out a financial settlement with Kilmarnock, who last year extended Williamson’s contract to 2006, a formal announcement should be made in the next 48 hours.
"I have been in talks with Hibs," Williamson told The Scotsman last night, "and they are speaking to Kilmarnock now. Until the two clubs have settled their business, I can’t make any further comment."
Williamson is understood to have agreed in principle to a four-year contract with Hibs. His assistants Jim Clark and Gerry McCabe will join him at Easter Road.
A powerful striker in a playing career which saw him serve Clydebank, Rangers, West Bromwich Albion, Rotherham United and finally Kilmarnock, Williamson was appointed reserve team coach at Rugby Park by Alex Totten.
When Totten was sacked as manager in December 1996, Williamson took over in a caretaker role.
He was eventually given the job on a permanent basis and in that first season guided Killie to their first Scottish Cup triumph for 68 years.
In four of his five seasons in charge, he has taken Kilmarnock into Europe and is arguably the second most successful manager in the Ayrshire club’s history behind the legendary Willie Waddell.
Despite his outstanding success at a club which was playing in the Second Division just 12 years ago, Williamson has never felt fully appreciated by a section of the Kilmarnock support.
Close friends of the Glasgow-born manager, one of only 12 Scots to hold UEFA’s professional coaching licence, have been aware for some time that he felt the need for a change of scenery.
Kilmarnock’s search for Williamson’s replacement may well take them in the direction of former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies and his erstwhile assistant Billy Brown, both men still out of football after their recent departure from Bradford City.
Other strong candidates for the post are Airdrie manager Ian McCall, former St Johnstone boss Sandy Clark and ex-Motherwell manager Billy Davies.