Hibs CEO Leeann Dempster reacts to suggestion she could leave for Hearts


HIBERNIAN chief executive Leeann Dempster insists she is ‘baffled’ by suggestions she could be tempted to cross the Edinburgh divide and take up the same role at Hearts.

A shock report on Tuesday claimed she was on Ann Budge’s radar for the post at Tynecastle.

There have also been rumours swirling online that her relationship with new owner Ron Gordon may have become strained during a fractious period for the club, and Scottish football as a whole.

 Edinburgh: Dempster has no desire to cross the capital divide to join Hearts

However, Dempster has rubbished the innuendo and is adamant she remains committed to the Hibees.

“I am sure they [Hearts] are as bemused as I am about where that came from,” said Dempster. “The internet can often run away with itself and there is nothing in that from them – I’m sure – or from me.

“It was just one of those daft stories. That is the void we are in at the moment and people fill the void.

“As far as I’m concerned – and I can hopefully speak for Ron [Gordon] as well – we are fine. There is no distance between us and we are moving in the same direction. We are working so closely together that we speak a couple of times a day.”

Dempster, meanwhile, has confirmed Hibs are ‘talking to their people’ with a view to implementing pay cuts in addition to the salary deferrals which were agreed in April.

“I need to respect the process and we want to do this collectively, as a club, and come through this together,” she continued.

“Everybody understands we all have a role to play – whether staff, coaches, players. The only way we will get through the challenges we are facing is if we do that together.”

The brutal financial realities of the Covid-19 crisis will also see redundancies implemented among their non-playing staff, with coaches Eddie May, Grant Murray, Lee Makel and Colin Nish included in those expected to leave the club.

“We have identified posts and actions we think might be pertinent and we are in consultation with the people who might be affected,” added Dempster. “But I can’t give a number.

Same direction: dempster is adamant she enjoys a positive relationship with owner Ron Gordon

“We only spoke to those post holders last week and the consultation with the larger staff will start the end of this week or maybe the beginning of next week.”

Despite the cost-cutting measure beings forced on the capital club, Dempster has refused to rule out reinforcements to Jack Ross’ first-team squad. It is understood Hibs are closing in on the capture of former St Johnstone winger Drey Wright, who left McDiarmid Park last month.

“We are a football club so we need to be able to compete,” said Dempster. “There is no suggestion of wholesale changes and we will do that as sensitively as we can but, at the end of the day, it helps everybody for the club to be stronger.

“If we didn’t bring in players we would be entering the new season with one hand tied behind our back.”

Dempster, meanwhile, is adamant she has no regrets about Hibs’ stance on calling the campaign and potential reconstruction, despite Scottish football now being gripped by an acrimonious court case between relegated Hearts and Partick Thistle and the SPFL.

“I don’t have regrets because I try not to live my life with 20-20 hindsight,” she said pointedly. “You have to deal with things and make the best judgements and deal with things at the time.

“I do hear a lot of people telling us how it should have been and could have been better. Well, every decision you make in life might have been better if you had the chance to relive it five or six times.”

On the prospect of the SPFL losing the case and potentially being liable for a £10m compensation payout, Dempster added: “It can only come from one place and that would be the central distribution pot and they are already tight so that would cause some concern.”

No threat: Dempster says there has been no talk of expelling Hearts from the SPFL in light of the Ann Budge, pictured, legal challenge

Nevertheless, she scoffed at the notion of Hearts and Thistle being kicked out of the league as ‘punishment’ for their actions.

“Those words have never even been uttered and it wouldn’t even be a discussion at this club,” she added. “That is so far removed from any reality I would recognise.”

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