HIBERNIAN icon Pat Stanton has thrown his weight behind the campaign to oust Easter Road chairman Rod Petrie.
The ex-Scotland international, voted best Hibs player of all time in a fan poll, will attend a rally outside Easter Road tomorrow where fans will protest against Petrie, who oversaw the Leith club’s humiliating relegation from the Scottish Premiership before handing his executive responsibilities to new chief executive Leeann Dempster.
Former Hibs midfielder Paul Kane, who made the first of 300 appearances for the club in 1983 when Stanton was manager, is leading the “Petrie Out” campaign and Stanton’s backing will increase pressure on Petrie, although there is little to suggest he will be persuaded to leave the club.
Hibs’ website noted that Petrie “continues to be the conduit between the club and its principal shareholder and benefactor, Sir Tom Farmer” and he is currently vice-president of the Scottish FA and chairman of the governing body’s Professional Game Board. Nevertheless, in a statement released last night, Stanton stood behind Kane and confirmed he would attend a rally, which is sure to be fiery.
He said: “I admire what Paul Kane and the campaign is doing and I’ll be there on Saturday. Someone had to stand up. Paul has done it and he is doing a great job. He has never wavered in his support and passion for Hibs as a player and a fan.
“Paul cares. That’s the difference and that’s what counts. He is doing it for the future of Hibs. All this week people have been stopping me in the street telling me they’ll be at the rally on Saturday at Easter Road. I’ll be there with them. You have to be very worried about the future and no-one can blame the fans for feeling the way they do. They have been very loyal and patient but the decline has not been over recent months. It has been coming over the last few seasons. The people running the club are very detached from the fans. The fans have been ignored for too long and kept at arm’s length. Now is the time to lower the drawbridge. The last thing fans wanted was it to turn into ‘us and them’. But that is what has happened and it is not the fans’ fault.”
The 69-year-old, who spent 13 years as a player with Hibs in the 1960s and 70s added: “Hibs have to learn the fans are the most important part of a club. They are not the enemy. A big mistake the people who run Hibs have made is to look on them purely as customers. They are not customers. A customer can go elsewhere. Fans can’t as they are here for life. I would love to see everyone pulling in the right direction at a time like this. It is foolish of the club to shun people. The last thing you want to do is alienate fans but that’s what they have done. Long term, we are not sure to come back up. Rangers and Hearts are there along with other good clubs. The way we were playing at the end of the season you would never bet on it. Last time we went down we were expected to come straight back up, which we did. This time there is a big ‘but’ and the consequences are frightening. Anyone who tells you it’ll be alright is talking nonsense.
“Hibs have a lot of things going for them and the club should not have ended up in this position. Something has to change. There is a lot of goodwill, as Paul Kane has found out, and we have to back him.”
Stanton will take part in the Walk With Legends event for children’s cancer charity CCLASP as part of the Leith Festival before attending the Petrie Out rally outside the West Stand at Easter Road from 11am onwards. Hibs Legends are also due play in a festival charity football match on Leith Links at 3pm.