BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALAN Stubbs is on the verge of leaving Hibernian just days after assuming legendary status by leading the club to their first Scottish Cup success in 114 years.
The Easter Road outfit have reluctantly given Rotherham United permission to speak to the former Celtic and Everton defender about their vacant manager’s post and the 44-year-old will leave for the English Championship club if he decides he wants the post.
The Millers have made it clear they view Stubbs as their number one target and were persistent in their pursuit after being knocked back in their initial approach for talks last week.
Stubbs, who was linked with interest from Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers in advance of Hibs’ historic cup final triumph over Rangers, informed the Easter Road hierarchy of his desire to hold discussions with Rotherham and will return south if he decides the New York Stadium club meet his ambitions.
Former Everton boss David Moyes insisted only last week that Stubbs should not rush into leaving Hibs but the Liverpudlian may decide Rotherham will provide him with the ideal stepping stone to a future move into the English Premiership or even to his boyhood heroes Everton.
Hibs have not given up hope that Stubbs, who has a year left on his contract, will remain in place to lead the club into the Europa League and for their bid to win promotion back to the Premiership.
However, after himself failing twice to win promotion either automatically or via the play-offs, Stubbs may feel he should capitalise on his stock currently being high following Hibs’ high-profile Scottish Cup victory.
Chief executive Leeann Dempster, who met Stubbs with head of football operations George Craig, said: “Throughout, we have made it plain to Alan that we want him to remain as head coach of Hibernian and build on what has been achieved.
“Despite that, Alan has expressed an interest in hearing what Rotherham have to say.
“I believe that our best chance to keep Alan focused and positive about his job at Hibernian is to allow a brief window within which Alan can speak to Rotherham.
“Reluctantly therefore, we have agreed to allow that to happen and we will take stock after that.
“While we have agreed to the request, we hope that Alan will see a brighter future here at Hibernian with the continued full support of the board.”
Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart publicly declared his desire to land Stubbs last week when he revealed he was very optimistic of appointing his number one choice should talks be granted.
He said: “It’s all about moving forward. I think if we get permission, the rest would be plain sailing.”
Sources south of the border have indicated an appointment could be made ‘on or around Wednesday.
A Rotherham statement said: “Rotherham United wishes to inform its supporters that the club has been granted permission to speak to Alan Stubbs by Hibernian FC.
“Talks regarding the vacant manager’s position at AESSEAL New York Stadium will take place over the course of the next 24 hours with Stubbs.
“The club will keep its supporters informed of any further developments as we look to appoint a new first-team manager.”
Stubbs’ departure would be a massive kick in the teeth for Hibs less than a fortnight on from one of the finest achievements in their history and would place huge uncertainty over the club’s ability to retain the services of the squad pieced together over the last two years.
Top scorer Jason Cummings has already been linked with a move away this summer and Rotherham have declared an interest in the past.
But, albeit they remain under contract, question marks would also be placed over the futures of the likes John McGinn, Dylan McGeouch and Fraser Fyvie, players who have flourished under Stubbs.