BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
LEEANN Dempster is adamant that Hibs will not sell Jason Cummings – during this transfer window or the next.
The Easter Road chief executive claims they will not have their heads turned by the possibility of bringing in massive money for the free-scoring 21-year-old, who penned a new four-year deal in the summer.
Instead, she is clear that their focus is firmly set on winning the Championship and promotion back to the top-flight – with Cummings right at the forefront of that quest.
The Scottish Cup winners have already turned down a deal of up to £1.7 million from Peterborough United for the star striker, who has banged in six goals in five domestic games this season.
But, with the transfer window ready to close at midnight on Wednesday, Dempster has stated categorically that Hibs will not lose their best players.
Asked about Peterborough’s rejected bid and the chance of others, Dempster said: “We turned that down because we want to get promoted this year. Jason is an integral part of the team.
“It says a lot for our club to be able to hold on to some of the strongest and best young talent in Scotland.
“People ask (how much we would sell for). The reality is that numbers are numbers. We’ve had a number put towards us and we’ve said no to that number.
“We don’t need to be worried about a last-minute offer. We are absolutely in control of that situation.
“Do we expect to get to midnight on Wednesday with our squad intact? Absolutely.
“Football is a strange game and all the rest of it, and you can never absolutely say never in this game.
“But I am saying never on this occasion.
“Nothing is happening in this transfer window – and we have no intention for anything to happen in the January one either.
“Our eyes are firmly focused on getting to the end of the season.
“Sometimes there are points in life and in football where it’s not about money and it can’t be about money.
“We want to get promoted and selling one of Scotland’s best talents, the club’s highest goal-scorer last season, and someone who has continued in the same vein this season, doesn’t show the ambition we want to show.”
Rather than anyone leaving, Demspter insists Hibs are working hard to add ‘one or two’ to the squad, with defensive cover uppermost in manager Neil Lennon’s mind.
After the recruitment of Grant Holt, Andrew Shinnie, Ofir Marciano and Brian Graham, any further signings would add to the positivity surrounding the club in the wake of May’s historic cup triumph.
Dempster was speaking at Hermitage Park Primary School in the capital as the club launched a four-month-long ‘Persevered’ trophy tour that will take the silverware and representatives of the club to 114 venues, one for every year the club waited to win the cup.
Schools, football clubs, businesses and universities in the surrounding area, and all of the Hibs supporters’ clubs on mainland Scotland, will get to see the trophy in a move that builds on the feel-good factor Dempster has been desperate to foster since taking over at the club in the wake of relegation in 2014.
She added: “There is an energy around the place that we have not felt for a long time. There is a happiness around the place that we’ve not felt for a long time.
“Let’s be absolutely honest, the Scottish Cup has tremendously helped us. For those who are Hibernian-minded in the Lothians and beyond, the feeling around that cup win was euphoric and it hasn’t disappeared.”
- Details of the trophy tour can be found at www.persevered.co.uk