By: Hibernian Media on 07 Nov, 2019 12:07
Hibernian Chief Executive Leeann Dempster spoke to Hibs TV to provide an update on the recruitment process for our new Head Coach, following the departure of Paul Heckingbottom.
Leeann also touched on anticipated business in the January transfer window and some of the wider work that is being done behind the scenes to improve the matchday experience at Easter Road Stadium.
Leeann, how do you reflect on the events of the past few days?
Obviously, it’s not where we want to be so it’s been a disappointing week. 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.
It’s fair to say they are two people you hold in the highest regard…
They’ve got fantastic qualities. 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.
What’s the process like this time around? Does it differ from last time?
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. This is my job at the club. Sometimes you have to take these decisions. 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.
It’s been a disappointing season so far but there’s a lot to play for…
There’s a lot to play for. We’ve only been through one cycle but, let’s be honest, we’re nowhere near where we want to be. We don’t just want to be a top six club and we’ve said that a number of times. We want to be a club that is competing in Europe. The series of results we’ve had is not going to put us in that position so let’s not try and kid anyone on. We need to try and be better. We need to try and improve. We’ve made massive investments in the football department over the last four or five years. We want to keep that momentum and, in terms of results, we don’t want to go backwards. You could argue about fine lines and luck but, at the end of the day, we need to win games. That’s the issue. Only winning games will get us up the league but I don’t think we’re out of touch. There’s a lot to play for.
It’s the nature of these things that names will obviously be linked to the post. Presumably you’re keeping an open mind about who the next Head Coach will be?
Absolutely. It’s a relatively wide net. We’ve got a good process and we’ve added a few layers to that. We’re in the position where we have to go through things properly and make the considerations. 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.
You’re confident the right person has a lot to work with?
They’ll have a lot to work with. 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.
There’s been comment that maybe you’ve been a bit quieter than people have been used to, in terms of speaking publicly. Can you talk people through what the last few months have looked like?
We had a new management team and squad of players. I’ve said before that I’d like football, on most occasions, to speak for the club. It was a decision I made to take a bit of step back and only really speak when something needed to be said. It’s a comment I get from supporters a lot so it’s something I’ll take on board. It’s also been a very busy time. We’ve just been through a massive transition with new ownership. That’s brought a lot of energy and it’s opened our minds to the opportunities that are there for us. Ron’s encouraging us to think differently and that’s what we’re doing. That means the things we’ve been thinking about for a number for years within the club, or some new things that we’ve been talking about, we need to see what we can do around the stadium to make it materially better for the fans in and around matchday. The team have been busy here and maybe heads have been down working in that respect. That’s impacted on communications so it’s a fair point. Some of the things we want to do are to make supporters feel when they come to Easter Road next season that it will be different. There’s many different aspects to that. Some of it’s things we’ve wanted to do for years but now have the opportunity to deliver. Others are new ideas and new opportunity driven by innovation and a determination to shake things up and do things differently. If we’ve been good at doing some things then we want to be better. If we’ve not been good at some things then we want to improve on that as well. There’s a whole raft of things going on at the moment.
Supporters will hopefully be heartened that a few of the things they’ve been asking for are included in these plans.
We’re almost at the end of it now, in terms of what the plan is and what’s achievable. There will be some capital investment required for some bits. Other elements, it’ll be us approaching things in a different way. We’ll be able to talk about that in a bit more detail soon. The focus, for me, just now is to complete those tasks along with my colleague and present them to the chairman and then plan how we make a start on that. But the big question, at the moment for me, is getting back to football. We need to focus on finding our new Head Coach and his team. Then we need to think about the transfer window. Importantly, going to St Johnstone on Saturday and trying to make sure we come away with a win. That has to be the goal and no-one within this club is under any misapprehension that that’s not the direction of travel we need to take.