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Stanton fuels drive to oust Petrie ahead of fans rally

Pat Stanton has accused Hibernian of alienating supporters and creating an "us and them" confrontation as he prepares to join other former players in addressing tomorrow's Petrie Out rally at Easter Road.

Stanton is unhappy with how Petrie has treated fans. Picture: SNS
Stanton is unhappy with how Petrie has treated fans. Picture: SNS

The Turnbull's Tornadoes legend has worked in recent times as a club ambassador for Hibs in hospitality but has come down firmly on the side of the fans by throwing his weight fully behind the campaign to oust chairman Rod Petrie.

The 69-year-old is scheduled to take to the microphone on an open-top bus outside Easter Road's west stand tomorrow morning as supporters ramp up the pressure on Petrie with a demonstration to coincide with a meeting between new chief executive Leeann Dempster and the Working Together umbrella group of fans.

Stanton is expected to be joined in speaking to the gathering by Jackie McNamara sr, Keith Wright, Mickey Weir and, as figurehead of the Petrie Out movement, Paul Kane, as well as Kenny McLean jr, the son of the former vice-chairman and Hands Off Hibs leader of the same name.

Stanton has praised Kane for helping supporters voice their displeasure with the club's hierarchy, with Petrie the target for much of the fans' ire since - and before - relegation from the SPFL Premiership last month.

The former Celtic and Scotland player, whose great-great uncle, Michael Whelahan, was one of the founders of Hibs and its first captain, believes it is time for action from fans who have been viewed as customers for too long.

The former Hibs captain and manager, and lifelong supporter of the club, said: "I admire what Paul Kane and the campaign are doing and I'll be there on Saturday. Someone had to stand up. Paul has done it and he is doing a great job. He has never wavered in his support and passion for Hibs as a player and a fan.

"A lot of people might say 'why bother?' But Paul cares. That's the difference and that's what counts. He is doing it for the future of Hibs.

"All this week people have been stopping me in the street telling me they'll be at the rally on Saturday at Easter Road. I'll be there with them.

"You have to be very worried about the future and no-one can blame the fans for feeling the way they do. They have been very loyal and patient. But the decline has not been over recent months. It has been coming over the last few seasons.

"The people running the club are very detached from the fans. The fans have been ignored for too long and kept at arms length. Now is the time to lower the drawbridge.

"The last thing fans wanted was it to turn into us and them. But that is what has happened and it is not the fans' fault. Hibs have to learn the fans are the most important part of a club. They are not the enemy.

"A big mistake that the people who run Hibs have made is to look on them purely as customers. They are not customers. A customer can go elsewhere. Fans can't as they are here for life. I would love to see everyone pulling in the right direction at a time like this. It is foolish of the club to shun people. The last thing you want to do is alienate fans but that's what they have done."

Stanton has also been deeply critical of the players who succumbed to relegation last season, with James Collins, in particular, drawing his ire for insisting there was no way Hibs would drop out of the top division, just weeks before they did.

And, with Rangers and city rivals Hearts for competition for promotion back to the Premiership next season, Stanton fears Terry Butcher's side could now struggle to bounce back - with "frightening" repercussions.

"Long-term, we are not sure to come back up," added Stanton. "Rangers and Hearts are there, along with other good clubs. The way we were playing at the end of the season you would never bet on it.

"Last time we went down we were expected to come straight back up, which we did. This time there is a big 'but' and the consequences are frightening. Anyone who tells you it'll be all right is talking nonsense.

"Hibs have a lot of things going for them and the club should not have ended up in this position. Something has to change. There is a lot of goodwill, as Paul Kane has found out, and we have to back him."

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