Leeann Dempster urges Hibs fans to self-police ‘loutish’ behaviour as she confirms Easter Road stand closure remains a last resort

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LEEANN DEMPSTER is adamant closing a section of Easter Road remains a last resort as the Hibernian chief executive pleaded with the club’s supporters to work together to halt the tide of ‘loutish’ behaviour.

In a lengthy statement released on Wednesday afternoon, Dempster acknowledged that Hibs have been the focus of ‘national attention for entirely the wrong reasons’ after Rangers captain James Tavernier was attacked by a fan last Friday night.

The individual has since been banned from every football stadium in Scotland after pleading guilty of breach of the peace, and Dempster has emphasised that Hibs will make every effort to enforce that punishment.

She also confirmed that another two fans were arrested on the night and have been blacklisted while the police conduct their investigations.

The shame game in Leith came just six days after a bottle was launched at Celtic winger Scott Sinclair. Dempster has pulled no punches in the aftermath of the incident and has now called on fellow fans to help self-police.

She said: “When we should all have been talking about an exciting game and a performance of real character by our team, we have instead spent our time discussing the loutish behaviour of individuals who seem determined to ruin football for all of us.

“It has to stop and we need your help to make Easter Road Stadium the vibrant, noisy, colourful, exhilarating but safe, welcoming and tolerant place it normally is.

“The problems are not confined to this club. To suggest otherwise is a nonsense but we first must look after our own home and our reputation by facing the issues we have experienced.

“Please, help us crack down on unacceptable behaviour. If you witness something that causes you concern during the match, let a steward know or write to us, providing us with as much detail as you can. We will act.”

Given both the attack on Tavernier and Buckfast bottle thrown at Sinclair emanated from similar areas of the East Stand, it was suggested that the club may be forced to close that section of Easter Road if problems continue.

Dempster refused to rule such a drastic measure out but was keen to underline that it is not a strategy currently being considered.

She continued: “Nothing is, or can be, off the table but it is clearly not my intention to immediately or negatively impact on the vast majority of well-behaved supporters who sit in that area.

“There are other measures being deployed before any closure is considered. In this debate one key principle must be agreed by everyone. We, as individuals, are responsible for how we choose to behave. It is our responsibility.

“When we make our behaviour the responsibility of others, we inadvertently condone those who choose to conduct themselves badly.”

Dempster, meanwhile, defended the club’s existing security measures after it emerged that the supporter who aimed the missile at Sinclair was not caught on camera.

Hibs swiftly announced they would be upgrading their CCTV system, prompting some to question whether the existing system was fit for purpose.

She hit back: “I would argue it [security system] is a match for any system other than those at Celtic Park and Ibrox.

“It has nine cameras inside the stadium and 14 outside, all of which are monitored in the matchday control room by our own security staff and police. They direct the cameras, which allows for detailed live-time monitoring and recording.

“The purpose of upgrading is to add a further layer, which will allow us to record, in high definition, key areas of the stadium throughout the match.

“This approach is being tested now and a new camera was in play for the game on Friday night. Once installed the additional cameras will put our system on par with the best available.”

 
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