Hibs chief Leeann Dempster: ‘I was never going to quit’

Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster insists she never considered stepping down in the wake of Neil Lennon leaving his role as head coach.

Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster speaks to the press at the unveiling of new manager Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster speaks to the press at the unveiling of new manager Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Dempster refused to elaborate on the reasons for the former Celtic manager parting company by mutual consent at the end of last month after Lennon was initially suspended following a heated team meeting.

After leading the club to the Championship title and to a new top-flight points high last season, Lennon’s departure did not go down well with large sections of the club’s support.

Despite criticism over her own role in a reshuffle that has led to Paul Heckingbottom being appointed to the dugout, Dempster believes she acted in the best interests of the club.

She said: “I didn’t really consider my position. Actually, I didn’t at all. If other people did, they certainly didn’t vocalise it to me. And somebody might say: ‘Actually the improvement you need to make is your chief exec.’ Fine. I’m happy to have that conversation.

“Big decisions are always difficult. Was I disappointed how things ended? Absolutely. It’s always disappointing when you transition from one head coach to another.

“You will be judged on the decisions you make. Sometimes they are good decisions. Sometimes they are bad 

“It would be brilliant to go back and be able to change things all the time but unfortunately life is not like that. You need to deal with each minute as it hits you.

“Neil was great for us and we were good for him.

“Has it been difficult? It’s not been pleasant, let’s be honest. It never is. But if you want to be popular, don’t join a football club.”

Dempster, meanwhile, is proposing all 12 Premiership clubs get around the table with the Scottish FA to discuss what she considers is a flawed disciplinary system.

Dempster cannot fathom how Celtic pair Scott Brown and Jozo Simunovic escaped retrospective punishment over separate incidents in Hibs’ recent 2-0 defeat at Parkhead, especially after Darnell Johnson was handed a two-game ban.

She added: “Within that game, there were a few other incidents, let’s put it that way.

“The tackle on Oli Shaw and the tackle on Mark Milligan, to name two.

“If Darnell is going to be cited for his tackle on (Emillio) Izaguirre, the least I was expecting was there would be others.

“It would appear they’ve not been looked at because there was no complaint made against them. So what does that mean?

“I’m going to have a conversation, absolutely, with the SFA and clubs.”

Dempster added: “It would be foolish to say we shouldn’t have a compliance process, of course we should.

“But my question is, is the compliance process that we’ve got doing what we want it to do as clubs?

“As the chief executive of Hibernian and being on the sharp end of it recently, I don’t think so.”