ANGRY Hibernian supporters are pressing ahead with plans to oust under-pressure Rod Petrie after the Hibernian chairman indicated he would not resign during a brief meeting at Easter Road yesterday.
Hibernian Supporters Association (HSA) chairman Mike Riley, former midfielder Paul Kane, media representative Simon Pia and Kenny McLean Jr, son of former Hibs vice-chairman Kenny McLean, spoke to Petrie yesterday ahead of a planned press conference at the association’s base this morning.
Petrie has faced growing calls to resign following the club’s desperate descent into the Championship, which was confirmed on Sunday when Terry Butcher’s side blew a 2-0 first-leg lead then lost on penalties to Hamilton Academical in the return leg at Easter Road.
Petrie has not commented in public but used the club website to issue a statement on Sunday apologising to the club’s supporters for a “dismal season on the pitch”. But he added: “Some supporters have suggested that I should resign as chairman. I take responsibility for the position that the club finds itself in. However, it would be wrong for me to abdicate that responsibility at this time and walk away and it would be wrong for the club.”
Manager Butcher has also made it clear he intends to stay in his post, and released 14 players the morning after the play-off humiliation, including Kevin Thomson, who will today be unveiled as a Dundee player.
Entering the stadium just before 2pm yesterday, Kane told the assembled media: “We are here to get Rod Petrie out. That’s what we’ve been asked to do. Ninety-five per cent of fans want him out.”
However, when, after little more than 30 minutes inside Easter Road, the four men emerged, they were reluctant to divulge any details of the talks.
Kane did, however, confirm that the group still plan to unveil details of a bid to force regime change at the capital club at the 11am press conference today.
Kane, who played over 300 games in eight years for Hibs, said: “All will be revealed about the meeting [with Petrie] at the press conference on Friday. We are not willing to say any more at the moment. Come to the press conference – it could be good.”
McLean jnr, whose father was also a key figure in the Hands Off Hibs movement of 1990, which rallied against a proposed takeover by city rivals Hearts, chaired by Wallace Mercer, insisted the meeting with Petrie had been cordial. He added: “The mood of the meeting was very nice, it was very calm and more will be said on Friday.”
Petrie himself declined to make any comment. Around 600 furious fans gathered outside Easter Road on Sunday to demand Petrie’s resignation after he presided over Hibs’ shock relegation.
And, despite suggestions that incoming chief executive Leeann Dempster will be given a free hand to revitalise the club, a portion of the support believe that will not be possible while Petrie retains overall control. It has been mooted that the HSA could consider a season ticket boycott in a bid to remove Petrie from his position. The group may also urge the club’s business partners to cut their spending.
Meanwhile, Paul Hartley’s newly-promoted Dundee were last night busy finalising deals for midfielder Thomson, 29, and Alloa goalkeeper Scott Bain, 22.