Hibs chief executive speaks for first time following Heckingbottom sacking and search for new boss
Hibs intend to appoint their new manager by the end of this month, according to Leeann Dempster.
The chief executive also explained that whoever is chosen to replace Paul Heckingbottom in the Easter Road hotseat will be given the chance to bring in new players in January.
The Yorkshireman and his assistant Robbie Stockdale were relieved of their duties on Monday, with Hibs tenth in the Ladbrokes Premiership and having failed to win a league game since the opening day of the season.
Discussing Heckingbottom’s departure for the first time in an interview with Hibs TV, Dempster also outlined her plans to find his successor, ideally within the next three weeks.
“I think, first and foremost, it’s important to thank Paul and Robbie for their efforts, for everything they brought and their qualities while they were here. They obviously made a magnificent difference to us when they came in last season. It really changed our season around, so we thank them for that. But it’s also fair to say that we aren’t where we want to be at the moment. We’ve had to reflect on that and, ultimately, it’s meant Paul and Robbie have left. That’s really disappointing – not just for them but us as well.
“They’re two great people and were fantastic around the place. On this occasion it was a decision that wasn’t an easy one to take. I just want to wish them all the best. They brought a different dynamic but I think the truth is that there’s an opportunity now for us to change things up, do things slightly differently and see what the next phase of life at Hibernian looks like.
“This will be the fourth time we’ve recruited here. The process is ongoing and I’ll lead that, supported by our new sporting director, Graeme Mathie, and our new chairman, Ron Gordon. This will be his first opportunity to have that experience as well. The three of us will be pushing on with that. As we always do, we want to try and get the appointment right and we’ll take as much time as we need to do that. I would hope that we’ll have someone in place by the end of the month. That would be a loose target. I’m the person that has to pull this together but I’m supported by a brilliant team so it won’t just be me on my own. We have some fantastic people behind the scenes who can help us.”
Former St Mirren and Sunderland manager Jack Ross remains the odds-on favourite for the Hibs job with bookmakers. However, Dempster said: “There’s no outstanding ‘front-runner’. We’re very open-minded in terms of the individual we’re looking for but we’ll go through the process as we have in the past. We’re determined to find the right person and people.”
The summer recruitment is widely deemed to have been a key factor in Hibs’ slump under Heckingbottom. Dempster assured supporters that there will be the opportunity to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window.
“The new manager will have a lot to work with,” said the chief executive. “The structure within the club, we believe, is really strong. There’s been a lot of talk about our recruitment over the summer. I think it’s fair to say, with some hindsight, that there are areas we want to strengthen. The work will be done in January to try and do that. If we lived our life in hindsight we’d be winning the Champions League. We make choices and changes as they come towards us. The challenge will be on the guys in recruitment to make the adjustments we need in January because I think it’s obvious that we need a few.”