Hibernian are beginning the search for their ninth manager in the last ten years after failing to persuade Alan Stubbs to turn down a move to Rotherham United.
The Easter Road club’s worst fears were realised last night when Stubbs agreed to join the unfashionable English Championship outfit on a three-year contract.
The 44-year-old is set to be formally unveiled by Rotherham today, once a compensation figure is agreed with Hibs. Stubbs had a year remaining on his contract with the Scottish Cup winners who are expected to receive a sum of around £120,000.
Tony Stewart, the Rotherham chairman, expressed his confidence there would be no late hitches in his appointment of a successor to Neil Warnock.
“We’ve spoken, we’ve agreed terms and what we are working towards now is agreeing compensation,” said Stewart.
“It’s the final link in the chain, it’s a formality. He [Stubbs] has signed on a three-year-contract and is a well-admired young man in Scotland. They think we’re very fortunate to get him and he’ll be a big loss to Hibs.”
The departure of Stubbs will have a sobering effect on the euphoria in which Hibs and their supporters have revelled since he led them to their historic Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers at Hampden just 11 days ago.
Chairman Rod Petrie and chief executive Leeann Dempster had initially rebuffed Rotherham’s approach for permission to speak to Stubbs last Friday.
But after Stubbs informed them of his desire to hear what the South Yorkshire club had to offer, the Hibs board backed down. They retained hope Stubbs would decide his best career option was to remain in Edinburgh but the former Celtic, Bolton and Everton defender took little time to accept Rotherham’s terms after discussions with Stewart yesterday.
Personal circumstances are also believed to have played a part in Stubbs’ decision to move back to England where his family have continued to live since he left Everton’s coaching staff to become Hibs boss two years ago.
Despite failing to achieve promotion in both of his seasons in charge, losing out in the Premiership play-off semi-finals each year, Stubbs earned the approval of Hibs supporters for his player recruitment and the style of football he introduced to the team he inherited in the aftermath of relegation in 2014.
After leading Hibs to the League Cup final earlier this season, where they lost to Ross County, Stubbs ensured an everlasting place in the affection of the club’s fans by overseeing the 3-2 Hampden win over Rangers last month which ended a 114-year wait for Scottish Cup glory.
Initial bookmakers’ markets last night installed former Hibs boss John Hughes as favourite to succeed Stubbs. But it would be a surprise if Hughes, out of work after leaving Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the end of the season, returned for a second spell in charge.
Other names in the frame include Owen Coyle, also a free agent after leaving MLS club Houston Dynamo last week, and Scotland coach Stuart McCall who previously worked with Hibs CEO Dempster when they were at Motherwell.