Hibs chief Leeann Dempster rules herself out of SFA top job

Hibernian's Leeann Dempster has ruled herself out of the running for the chief executive job at the Scottish Football Association, saying she would rather stay at Easter Road.
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster. Picture: Greg MacveanHibs chief executive Leeann Dempster. Picture: Greg Macvean
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster. Picture: Greg Macvean
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The woman who has been central to turning around the fortunes of the Leith club, overseeing their first Scottish Cup win in 114 years and their return to the Premiership, Dempster had been widely touted as the ideal person to replace Stewart Regan, who left the high-profile post at the start of the month.

She admitted that the attention had been flattering but said she felt she had more to achieve in the capital.

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“It’s a big challenge for whoever goes in there, and that’s not something I wouldn’t be up for, but I’m enjoying life here.

“It’s absolutely true that the job is one of the best, if not the best football job in Scotland, and any normal person who is linked with it wouldn’t be telling the truth if they said they never stopped and blinked for a second. But that’s effectively what it was, I stopped and blinked and then reflected on the work happening here.

“It was lovely, because people put your name forward and say great things about you.That’s nice to hear because it means you’re being recognised for doing some good work. But I see my time in Scotland firmly at Hibernian. I don’t really see myself working in Scotland at another organisation in football outside this club.”

A driving force at the club since she moved there from Motherwell three and a half years ago, she said trading the way she worked to fit in at the SFA was not a lure but she insisted there is scope to improve the way the governing body operates and bolster the national game.

“Working within an environment like the SFA and the SPFL is very much a collaborative thing. Working at a club, particularly if you’re a chief executive, you’re very much there to make decisions and lead. But there are opportunities to improve the game in Scotland and, with the events of the last couple of weeks, I think we’re at a stage now where we’ve got a chance to look towards the future and for both organisations [SFA and SPFL] to formalise a bigger strategy for the game and understand what each does best. We need to get into a situation where they are working as closely and as collaboratively as they possibly can. It’s probably a staging point for us and a good opportunity.

“There are absolutely opportunities for the SPFL and the SFA to work together on bigger projects – that might be sharing obvious things, like commercial or communications – rather than each just pushing towards its own ends. Lots of people have negative things to say about the game in Scotland, but all I see is positivity. I see great people working in the game, money coming towards the game, clubs improving their facilities and infrastructure, and good young players.

“But I do think it’s time that every club needs to have the opportunity to get involved in the game.

“It ought not to be the same clubs all the time, it ought not to be the same people all the time. We need to try to broaden that out. Equally, I think that when people come in we have to empower them, in a positive way.”