HIBERNIAN supporters are to be given the final say as to whether a bid from multi-millionaire Brian Kennedy to take over the Easter Road club gets the go-ahead.

The promise came as a special meeting between Kennedy and the Hibs board was being arranged under strict secrecy to discuss his business plan for the future of the club. It seemed last night that Kennedy's takeover bid was very much alive despite official denials from Easter Road officials who are trying to keep the matter private.

Kennedy said that if his takeover plan was accepted by the shareholders the fans would then be called to a special meeting when they would be asked to vote on the validity of his proposals.

If the supporters felt they would not benefit the club and thought the present board could do a better job he would walk away from the takeover plan, he said.

His comments came as the

battle for the future of the Easter Road club, which has split the club's supporters, took a new twist.

Kennedy said he would be meeting the club's board to present them with his business plan, something he had so far refused to do, within the next fortnight.

The meeting is a significant step forward between both parties who up until now had not met on the issue.

Incredibly, the Easter Road club are still trying to deny the meeting will take place despite the fact that details of it has been confirmed to The Herald by two independent sources.

It is believed they are trying to play down any fresh contact between both sides and cite confidentiality agreements as their reason for not admitting the meeting will proceed.

Initially, the Hibs board rejected Kennedy's proposals last week but yesterday he said he had been in contact with them again on the matter.

''I will show the Hibs board my business plan as they have made it clear they will not consider my bid without seeing it,'' said Kennedy. ''I withdrew my initial bid before they saw my business plan but I believe that once they see it they will realise its validity.

''Before I sign any deal to take over Hibs, and if the shareholders back me, I will hold a public meeting when I will outline my proposals to the final penny of investment.

''I will then ask the supporters at the meeting for their views and if they go against me and believe the present board have the better plans then I will walk away from my bid.''

Kennedy believes that club owner Sir Tom Farmer has received such a torrid time over his ownership of Hibs because he had never made clear the amount of investment he planned to put into the club.

''After my meeting with the board I will spell out to the last penny how much money I will put into the football club,'' said Kennedy.

''I will stick to that promise so no-one can criticise me for not putting in what I had agreed to.''

Despite the impression from Kennedy that the bid is back under consideration it is believed the Easter Road board are furious that details of the meeting have leaked out. One Easter Road source said: ''As far as we were concerned the deal with Kennedy was dead. He did make an approach to Rod Petrie but the board wants to keep any meeting private.

''We don't want our hand forced on the issue and don't want supporters to think we will take his bid just because he is meeting us. If he wants his bid to be reconsidered then he'll have to tell us about it and we'll decide what we will do.''

It is clear that the Easter Road board are under severe pressure from their own supporters to at least consider Kennedy's bid and scrutinise his business plan.

Brian Monteith of pressure group Hands on Hibs said: ''The Hibs board must surely accept that they should be at least meeting with Kennedy.

''At the club's agm last Monday the board accepted that the business plan should be looked at if made available and any possible investment in the club must be considered.

''I believe it is important that the supporters of Hibs are at least given the chance to see what he had planned for the club. It is also important that Kennedy will call the fans to a special meeting to hear first hand his proposals and welcome that move.''

The Hibs board are furious at the Hands on Hibs campaign and issued a statement yesterday claiming they were deflecting attention from the club's promotion challenge. Club chairman, Tom O'Malley accused the group of ''intimidation'' over their attacks on Sir Tom Farmer and called on all Hibs supporters to rally round the team.

Despite the fact that Hibs sit top of the first division there is still unrest among their supporters although the official Hibs

Supporters Club has come out in full support of Sir Tom's running of the club.

On the field, manager Alex McLeish has made it clear that the takeover saga can be distracting for the team who play Morton at Easter Road on Saturday, when they will have Finnish striker, Mixu Paatelainen back in the side.