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Kane: Petrie still had say in Butcher dismissal

THE party line inside Easter Road is very much that Leeann Dempster led the way in making the decision to relieve Terry Butcher of his duties as manager.

Paul Kane does not accept that Rod Petrie had no say in decision to sack Terry Butcher. Picture: SNS
Paul Kane does not accept that Rod Petrie had no say in decision to sack Terry Butcher. Picture: SNS

No question about it. You shouldn't pin this one on Rod Petrie.

Unfortunately for those entrusted with relaying "the message" from above at Hibernian, the noise being created outside is certainly proving a diversion and, some might say, threatening to drown them out.

As Dempster, the club's new chief executive, held talks with supporters' representatives inside the stadium on Saturday, she no doubt heard the commotion directly outside the front door as an estimated 1500 supporters gathered to hear speeches from the likes of Pat Stanton and Jackie McNamara at a rally intended to force Petrie, her chairman, out of the club.

She had just finished addressing a press conference to explain Butcher's removal last night when Paul Kane, the figurehead of the well-orchestrated "Petrie Out" campaign which is gathering steam in the capital, put forth his own appraisal of the day's developments.

Suffice to say, it didn't quite tally with the official version of events.

Kane, who also set up the former players' association at the Leith club and made almost 300 appearances in green-and-white, believes Butcher must go down as the 11th permanent manager to suffer at the hands of Petrie during an increasingly turbulent 17-year spell and suspects the final decision was only delayed to allow Dempster to get in the door from Motherwell and don the executioner's hood.

He intimated that disgruntled supporters are finding it hard to accept that Petrie, still in a position of influence at Easter Road, is loosening his grip on the reins wilfully and believes the nature of the latest manager's departure has reinforced the feeling that radical change from the top down is the only way forward for a club still coming to terms with relegation from the top division.

Indeed, Kane points out that making Butcher wait for 16 days following the play-off defeat by Hamilton Academical to discover his fate has left Hibs in an unnecessarily vulnerable position.

"I think what has happened here has made our campaign even stronger," said the 48-year-old, who owns the Four In Hand pub just a short stagger from the stadium. "Don't kid yourself that this has been done under Leeann Dempster's watch. It was Rod Petrie's watch.

"I think it has been delayed to allow her to give him the dunt. It looks like an attempt to dilute the situation and my own view is that Rod Petrie has been put before the club again. If Petrie says he is taking a hands-off role he shouldn't have been anywhere near this.

"The thing is, if they had it in mind to sack Terry Butcher, it should have been done a couple of days after the end of the season. They have now wasted two-and-a-half weeks that could have been used to find a new manager and start sourcing new players. They are now going to be scrambling about before pre-season as other teams are already signing people."

Certainly, those days spent making hay on homegrown players such as Steven Fletcher, Scott Brown and Steven Whittaker, and building the club's new training centre are now providing little succour for Hibs' supporters.

Since John Collins walked away from the manager's job after winning the Scottish League Cup in 2007, the Edinburgh side have been on the slide under Colin Calderwood, Pat Fenlon and Butcher, whose contract was due to run until 2016.

Kane dreads to think how much money has been squandered on compensation packages and points out that Hibs turned down a reported £300,000 offer from Birmingham City for Calderwood just a matter of months before ushering him out of the door.

"How much has it cost to pay off all those managers, along with their coaching teams and the players they haven't fancied?" he asked. "It must be fortunes. We were actually offered money for Calderwood and didn't take it before paying him off.

"The same goes for most of the other managers. John Collins walked out without taking money, but that was because they wouldn't give him finance to reinvest in the team despite bringing millions in."

Those behind the "Petrie Out" campaign are pushing for a meeting with Hibs' owner Sir Tom Farmer and the group has received lengthy correspondence by email from the Leith-raised tycoon which they intend to respond to shortly. "We will provide an answer to that within the next couple of days," Kane added.

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