Hibs chief executive rubbishes talks of ‘turmoil’ and insists Neil Lennon had full control over signings

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Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster has strenuously fended off suggestions that the club is in ‘turmoil’ and a ‘shambles’ following Neil Lennon’s departure as head coach.

Dempster has also flatly denied ‘disgraceful’ claims that former Celtic manager Lennon did not have the final say over player recruitment.

In a video interview with the club, Dempster gave an update on the search for a successor to the 47 year-old and admitted that they were not rushing the process of finding a replacement.

It has been reported that a shortlist has been whittled down to former Barnsley and Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom and ex-Leicester City boss Michael Appleton.

Lennon and number two Garry Parker controversially parted company by mutual consent last Wednesday.

It came after Lennon, who successfully led the team to the Championship title and a fourth place finish with a record points total in last season’s Premiership, was suspended five days earlier amid suggestions of a heated team meeting,

However, the statement confirming his exit said he was not ‘guilty of any misconduct or wrongdoing’.

Academy coach Eddie May and first team coach Grant Murray have taken charge of the last three matches and are set to continue in the dugout for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup visit of Raith Rovers.

And Dempster has attempted to reassure supporters that operations behind the scenes are running smoothly.

She said: “I’ve read and heard a lot of absolute rubbish about us being in turmoil and it being a shambles, blah, blah, blah.

“It’s totally and utterly untrue, it’s just complete and utter drama. 

“When events come towards you, you have the benefit of great people and a good structure from within the training centre and Easter Road to help you get through periods of difficulty and opportunity and we have some brilliant people working with us.

Allegations

Dempster also addressed some of the allegations levelled at the Leith side following Lennon’s departure, namely that he was not in full control of signings.

She added: “Some of the allegations and criticisms of them (colleagues) I think have been disgraceful.

“The bit I find difficult is criticism of the people I work with, colleagues, who unlike myself, don’t have access to defend themselves.

“Recruitment is an area where that has been a lot of criticism.

“I have not read it but if it is accurate as it has been reported to me, it has been suggested for example that myself, George Craig (director of football operations) and others that we have been recruiting players and us doing it on our own.

“Well I’m afraid that’s not accurate, that just does not happen and the new person who comes in will be treated the same way as the last two coaches and they’ll have the final decision who comes in to the football club.”

Lennon

Meanwhile, Dempster, who described 20 year-old striker Oli Shaw as ‘one of the best young players – certainly for his age group – in Europe’, refused to elaborate on the reasons for Lennon and Parker leaving the club.

She added: “I understand that supporters want to know, there is an interest and it’s their club but I have to say there’s been a joint statement that has been agreed by all parties and we’re really not saying anything beyond that. 

“There has been a lot of speculation about what happened but we have not been engaging in any media briefings and I’m certain Neil and Garry haven’t been either.

“I guess it follows then that what your reading in the press and hearing on that radio that most of is it is speculation.”

Head coach search

Speaking about the search for a new head coach, Dempster added: “The search is well underway, we’ve had a lot of interest in the post and we’ve been away for a few days having some interesting conversations.

“It’s important to say that the person and people we’re speaking to that we respect them and give them the discretion that’s required and when we have something to tell the supporters then we’ll do that as quickly as we can.

“We’ve been on the road, having conversations, there are some more to be had.

“There’s a few games in between that we need to focus on as well but we’re not rushing this process and that’s the beauty of having great people in the background to have some space to make the decision.”

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