Hibs chief Leeann Dempster hints that a foreign coach is the priority to replace Paul Heckingbottom

"We need to cast the net wider than we have in the past"

Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster

Leeann Dempster has confirmed that Hibs are open to the possibility of appointing a foreign manager as successor to Paul Heckingbottom.

The Easter Road club are in the early stages of their search for a new boss after the Yorkshireman was relieved of his duties on Monday.

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Former Sunderland and St Mirren manager Jack Ross and ex-Luton Town and Stoke City boss Nathan Jones both feature prominently on Hibs’ list of potential candidates but, as revealed by the Evening News earlier this week, it is not beyond possibility that they may look to go down the overseas route, with German pair Daniel Stendel and Jan Siewert, as well as former Rangers defender Sergio Porrini among those linked.

“I think we need to cast the net wider than we have in the past,” said chief executive Dempster as she spoke to newspaper journalists yesterday afternoon. “We need to be looking globally, certainly within Europe anyway, and have a wider consideration of that. I don’t think we were closed-minded before but I think we’re feeling that we want to see what else is out there in the market.

“It might well be someone who isn’t based in the UK or who perhaps hasn’t managed in the UK before but, for instance, they might have played in the UK before. Unless they were really impressive, we wouldn’t necessarily be thinking about someone who has no understanding of the British game. We’re open-minded though. It’s about their football determination, how they’d fit into our structure and how they utilise it. We’ve worked really hard over the last five years to put good people in the building so that it makes us better at what we do. Paul was brilliant at using them, and we don’t want to lose that.”

While Ross is odds-on favourite with bookmakers to land the job, Dempster dismisses any suggestion that Hibs are already homing in on a specific candidate. “The recruitment process is open at the minute,” she stressed. “We don’t have an outstanding person that we’re completely targeting at the minute. That will change soon because we need to get someone in place by the end of November, or sooner. We’re just in the process of identification at the moment.”

Dempster explained that Hibs will require time to get the right person because they hadn’t anticipated having to dispense with a Heckingbottom, who was only appointed nine months ago, so early in his reign. “We didn’t want to make the change as quickly as we have,” she said. “The reality is we weren’t really ready for the change. Normally in football, you always start thinking about it and have a position where you’re thinking ahead to that possibility, whether it’s in a year or 18 months or whatever it may be. You’re always looking at the market but we’re only in it this week with some earnest and hopefully that shows you how much we respected Paul and that we weren’t sitting in the background with a list of 50 potential candidates to come in.”