Below are considered opinions of the meeting that took place at Easter Road on Wednesday. The first is by Dougie our Chairperson and the second by Mark,Jamie and Alexander who represented the Hibees Bounce there and asked questions collated from responses in a consultation with Bounce members. All three guys are St. Patrick’s Branch members (Alexander signed up with us before the meeting as did Robert, who was also present. A big St. Pat’s welcome to you both!)
1)Firstly a big thank you to all Branch members who contributed to the consultation
and emails organised by BIG G, this survey although started after the
disastrous Malmo result produced many sincere contributions on the known concerns
over the Clubs long standing under achievement and more specifically the
Management and Owners disconnect from the Supporters. Although perhaps unknown
at the time of the survey these contributions would soon be used to challenge
the Chairperson directly.
So it’s fair to say Gordon and I were slightly surprised but very grateful
for the invite direct from the Club via the ‘Lets Work Together’ group giving
us the opportunity to take our members comments and mandate from St Pat’s to
meet the man! It was coincidental that we also got an invite from BT Sport to
be interviewed ( 2 to 3 Minute slot) at the Hibs Club the Saturday prior to
this meeting and with Gordon’s organisational skills I was able, on camera, to
use the same documented mandate to present the non-confrontational but truly
concerned feelings that St. Patrick’s Branch members in Scotland, Ireland,
England, Wales, The Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, New Zealand, Australia and now
Canada have about the club and its future. Not sure if any you managed to see
the interview which I believe was on the Scottish Football round up on
Wednesday night (I missed it but was told I need more make-up on my Mr Tefal
foreheid and congratulated on managing to mention St Pat’s Branch several times
in the first 15 seconds).
So Gordon and I turned up at Easter Road on Wednesday night, with the Branch
remit; ‘ We have a very good relationship with the Chair, Board and Manager
however members have expressed their feelings and hope that they will be taken on
board’ It was a unique and surreal position to be sat around in a circle with 12
guys two of whom were David Forsyth and Rod Petrie. Reading directly from the
‘word for word’ quotes from our members, we rightfully and firstly set out the
respect we have for the Clubs owner, the Board and business acumen of the
Chairperson, that has brought us a magnificent stadium, training facility and
stable Bank Balance, (then deep breath and curled lip), HOWEVER, what about the current crisis and
more importantly, what are the thoughts on the years of under achieving on the
pitch and the complete disconnect between the Supporters and the Management
team. The initial comments from Rod were, ‘What crisis? What lengthy under
achieving? and What disconnect? (to be fair, perhaps the only position he could
take). His response was met with a tirade of comments on what fans actually think
starting with the current Manger and working back across years on what was seen
as lack of passion, pride and any real
fight. That pride passion and fight were certainly evident over the next two
and a half hours, with the guests letting rip and to be fair some good
responses from the man on the ropes. I think the most marked point for me was
when looking Rod directly in the eye and saying ‘Regardless if he put all this
so called negative talk as our perception and even if this was only our
perception, he and his Management team have therefore failed big time’. ‘So if
you want to call it our perception, that’s fine but we believe this Board is
tired and has run out of ideas and steam’. ‘If you don’t see this, then that is
the actual and real disconnect we are talking about’. At that point I also
asked of everything he had heard had rattled him and he agreed he had been. The
two and a half hours raced by and although there was undoubtedly blood on the
carpet there was also some good humour and a mutual respect given. Other
strands of discussion confirmed that Tom Farmer would sell if the right and
trusted buyer came along however there had been no potential deals recently or
historically. We asked again and got a categorically response. We also covered
the point that if Tom Farmer gets run over by the next 35 going down Easter Rd,
would we be assured that the Club had been
set up in such a way that it would survive and continue under the same good
business model and was confirmed that Hibs finances would ensure that. Some
concession I guess as Rod would consider a fan based Board member. We said that
a Technical/Fitba’ Director which was something St. Pat’s Branch members, in
particularly one of our Dutch members, felt would ensure that person ,who normally
remains at the Club a lot longer than the Coach, would enroll a group of
players at the Club, necessitate a real scouting system and the Coach would be responsible for the way that
these guys function on the park and do away with the ludicrously waste of money
whereby every Manager brings his players in and the previous Managers are
emptied. Despite our best endeavours to
point out that this would certainly be a fresh idea in Scottish Football, it was
talked out as they say. It is a given that Rod is going to be in place for some
time, it is a given that Pat will be given more time to get things right
however maybe just maybe, the experience of what the normal punters actually
think may start to just crack the door open on a more Supporter focused Management
team. As it was said outside after the meeting, this is hopefully just round one
of a long fight to get the Supporters real views taken into consideration. A big thanks to the Bounce boys who contributed.
All in all a both G and I thought that it was a worthwhile exercise and we
hope to pick up further with the LWT group. ‘It’s always better to be sitting
at the table rather than throwing stains at the windaes.
We would really welcome Branch members opinions on where we as a Branch should take things from here.
2)As we said last night, it was a frank and often blunt discussion last night with Rod Petrie and David Forsyth. The meeting followed no agenda and flowed, meaning it was difficult to always include the specific
questions we were given to ask. We did manage to get most over and few
others to boot, and they varied from the detail of Lewis Stevenson’s
varied positions, rumour and confetti to specifics like how we choose
managers, media and communications with the fans, further developments
to ER and the Training Centre and the need for Technical Directors and
tactics that work. What was pushed most was the things we know and care
most about, the decline in Hibs over an extended period several seasons, poor performance on the field, the managers team selection/ tactics,
communications with fans and media, and the roles of Tom Farmer, Rod
Petrie the board and people that run the club day to day. Its fair to
say RP back Pat, he poke highly of him and feels he should be given a
chance, although to be honest he could not and professionally, would not say otherwise.
So to the Bouncers specific questions and the answers we gleaned:
• What is the board’s vision for our football club? (I’d like to know
where he sees Hibs in ten years time). What strategy is being followed
to deliver this vision? What are realistic targets for the football club
in terms of success and are targets part of the discussion in manager
I know it has been suggested elsewhere that it was confirmed the
board do have a vision for the club. Whilst much was said about looking
forward, we feel that there is in fact nothing in place, no five – ten
year plan, not obvious targets, and no real meetings to drive these.
Targets are given to the Manager; he is rewarded for achieving them. He
is not if he doesn’t.
• Does the board see the football club having a ‘template’ style of
football, from the youngest team to the 1st team, allowing promotion
from within to flourish?
Again and in a word, NO they do not. They did confirm that Pat Fenlon
takes an active and passionate interest in the whole club set up and is
working his way through how the club and its players are developed from
• A football ‘constitution’ for Hibs that any 1st team coach has to fit
into, not the other way round, a long term strategy for developing our
own players to play in a manner the support in general want to see, win
lose or draw.
This was discussed at great length and the club are convinced they are doing a good job, see above.
• If the answer is NO, the follow up question has to be how soon can it
be implemented and how would the board go about doing so?
I don’t think this was answered clearly, why? Well we felt that RP
was reluctant to talk about anything that undermined Pat Fenlon but they did tell us that when selecting managers they did go much wider than
the board using ‘football people’ that would if we knew who, we would be surprised. A laugh was raised when on of the bouncers asked if we never went back to the guy who recommended Calderwood. It’s fair to say RP
knew he made a mess of that one and although never said so, he alluded
to the fact that the plan they had went wrong due to something they
hadn’t planned for. Our guess was the useless fud Calderwood was a short term plan to bring through Derek Adams who surprisingly left, just a
A Director of football together with 1st team coach has to be a consideration.
There was a lot of talk, back and forth, RP saying it hadn’t worked
in the UK, us countering with the success of these systems at Man City,
Liverpool and Celtc. The money earned in the EPL against the SPL were
also quoted, with us suggesting that money is not a problem if we shop
at the right level, its not Txiki Beguirestan we want, it’s a man who
can help ease the workload of the manager. It’s good enough for
Barcelona. I felt that the club had considered it previously and
discounted it, it may have hurt RP that whilst we know he is a fitba
man, he is no a real fitba man. I think this may just get raised again
at a board meeting especially when crowds drop if we continue to perform poorly. It is apparent Jimmy Nicholl has “been a breath of fresh” air,
let’s hope so. It was eluded that the selection of JN came from the
manager and may just be an admission that he needs the help of an Erse
kickin coach who knows our league? It would seem Liam O’Brien failed,
how and why we don’t know and to be honest, he is gone now.
• At a time that Rangers and Heart s are in financially difficulty and
we have a finished stadium as well as training academy etc, do the board
feel they are doing enough to make the most of this? Is there not an
opportunity to take advantage of the weakened competition to achieve a
higher league placing with the consequent impact from league and
We could labour this but we would suggest RP is very aware of where
we should be and the opportunities we have. Worth noting this was not a
question and answer, we had to work these in and it should be noted that he chairman of the St Patricks HSC stepped in around the conversation
and made a blunt and fundamental statement. He suggested RP and his
current team are tired and have ran out of ideas, Frankly RP was shaken
by this very eloquently pitched but vociferous statement by the mild
mannered head of St Pats. He repeated this statement throughout the
conversation and I would say that, along with our own Lexo’s heartfelt
statement of why the season ticket holder who had travelled all Europe
pre season could not be arsed suffering the Hibs United game. really hit
hard and hit home. For me he looked shaken at the accusation and he
• The club has had a revolving door of both managers and players over
the last few years. How much has it cost the club to pay off managers
and players to leave since the John Collins era? After rewarding
underperformance with compensation, has the club thought about putting a
clause in the manager’s contract determining minimum requirements
expected as Hibs manager? If not, why not?
RP confirmed the managers contract does have performance markers, whilst
he would not and should not define them, we thought he was disappointed
we would think otherwise. The question was put about clauses in
contracts for success (min top 6 etc) and RP did confirm there is
financial incentives, whether these should be changed well, we think so.
A discussion was held about Hibs managers living in lets say Lothian
area, they told us the story of a now famous manager turning us down
after accepting the job when he found out he had to live here. The
consensus was if you don’t want to live in Edinburgh area, you don’t
want to manage our club. Not sure the club think the same but they
seemed to acknowledge our opinion and would consider it going forward.
• Why do we find ourselves at this juncture again, after almost the same
time period as Collins, Paatelainen, Hughes, Calderwood and now Fenlon?
We’ve come full circle and are experiencing the same problems, hearing
the same complaints and feeling the same frustrations; what is it about
our managerial recruitment policy that has systematically failed to
produce a manager capable of having Hibs compete in the top six (four).
See elsewhere, Hibs use football professionals and watch the market
constantly for up and coming managers. They felt the major failing was
Calderwood, whilst not saying so.
• With the high turnover of managers and players, what responsibility do
the board take for failing to achieve stability? Does the board and in
particular the chairman as the leader have to look at their own approach
not only to recruitment but the building of relationships with the
football staff. Most successful clubs have a strong bond between the
executives and the football staff and it has been questioned whether
that is the case at Hibs.
We didn’t get to slot this question in anywhere; it is clearly an ongoing issue.
• When you have season ticket holders not attending the first game of
the season on a sunny Sunday afternoon you have a problem. You may have
their cash this year, but maybe not next year. The annual charm
offensive come season ticket time might not work next year. Take away a
cup final rush for tickets that help and you may find that a lot of us
may have thought “ram it” if we have another league season like the last
5 or 6. Last year apart from the cup run was boring and horrible to
watch. The club cannot afford to lose supporters. It is easier to retain
existing fans that it is to entice additional ones. Listen up and
listen good Rod and the board, no more flannel. Get your fingers out and
get us a good manager, give him incentives to make us better, give us
incentives to keep going and others to come back. But most of all give
us the enjoyment, excitement and pride back in following our team. It is
our team and the 3 things listed previously have been in far too short
reply for a long time.
Lexo will answer this, he was very passionate about it, well done mate, described as the voice of a real supporter, I agree.
• Do you think the fans are part of the problem and why do we hear so
little from the club? Do we have a PR/have we considered one? What are
we doing to get children involved in Hibs?
Not asked, it just didn’t fit in to the many things discussed.
• Can we ask if we have any plans to hire a dedicated fitness coach,
nutritionist and sports psychologist to make sure the manager and
players have the best back up possible and are able to utilise East
Mains to its full potential?
Not asked, it just didn’t fit in to the many things discussed.
• What is the clubs view on East Mains; failure or success? For the investment, there has been next to no return, if any.
They feel it’s a success, and that we have six or seven young players now on the edge or part of the squad.
• What is the clubs policy on player’s lifestyle choices? Too many of
our players become involved in alcohol fuelled incidents. It embarrasses
the supporters and the club. Do our players follow some form of a food
and nutrition guidance (including alcohol)? Are there penalties for poor
The club fine them for misbehaviour, it was suggested one had got a
fine that very day. There was much discussion about the Edinburgh
Village, players seen out on the lash and RP did speak strongly on how
they control this. DF suggested he gave a media awareness class to the
young players, maybe the older ones needed it, we agreed they do, not
only social media but behaviour as a representative of the club and
Press – We asked a question about the breakdown in the relationship
with the media, we suggested the club use the pro Hibs papers and
writers to sell the club better. It was felt there is a lot of goodwill
in the media towards Hibs; we don’t use it at all. It was also argued
long and hard that club communications are awful. We offered our
services, use the bounce, use Hibs net, talk to us, frankly use the
Evening news and Scotsman, use Kenny Millar in the Sun, its their job to say good things about Hibs, it sells papers and gets hits on websites.
If we disagree with what they are doing, we will tell them. If they ask
us to do something for them we don’t like, we won’t do it and will tell
them why. This seemed to sink in and the promised to be less ‘corporate’ with the press and media and ourselves. There was also much talk about
poor communications re players, what is going on etc, it was accepted it needs improvement, fast. We will be waiting and watching.
Other things that may have not been stated elsewhere, is the club for
sale? We danced around what would happen if Tom Farmer died etc. It
should be noted everyone in the room stated their eternal thanks to Mr
Farmer for what he done for the club, but things move on. The summary
was not it’s not for sale but the thought is if the right group were to
approach the club with an offer deemed acceptable and suitable to the
future of the club, it would be considered. Do we have people out there
capable of it, yes? Do we have the funds needed, probably not? It was
agreed that we should not wish for something we would later regret, look
at the Fannies across the city.
One thing I have not read elsewhere was the long discussion about fan
representation on the board, great examples were given of where it works
in far bigger places than Hibs and whilst we would say RP and DF are
not in favour of it, maybe, just maybe, they know it is something they
should consider seriously. The claim of other non exec board members
being ‘Big Hibby’s’ simply didnae wash. Let’s watch that one closely,
arse lickers need not apply.
1875’s Opinion – I thought the passion of the fans in attendance
was a force to be reckoned with. RP took and was surprised to receive a
right good verbal doing. He was frank, forthright and as engaging as I
have seen. Those who think he is a passionless bean counter, I beg to
differ, he cares, and he cares a lot, but he struggles to accept where
he has gone wrong. However he was, for me, stunned and on the back foot
at the suggestion he was tired and had ran out of ideas, he denied it
but I genuinely thing he knows he has to up his game.
Jamie’s Opinion –I thought that RP was taken surprise at the
feeling we all have for the club at this current time, I feel that RP
likes to make out that everything is rosy when it is not and tried to
defend the club vigorously, I felt he is a tough nut and will not accept change very well or even think about it, the Director of Football an
example, seemed to dismiss it as it wouldn’t work, well for the last
4-5-6 seasons its not worked so why not be different Rod?.
I have NO doubt he wants Hibs to succeed but is he the man to take us forward I’m not too sure! GGTTH
Lexo’s Opinion – In answer to my statement to RP I wasn’t expecting an answer it was
more to let him see how bad I think the football we are being served up
is. He did seem a bit taken aback and I,m a bit worried that he maybe
think the football we are watching is,nt that bad. As 1875 said he
obviously wasn’t going to slate the manager, my hope is he does see that we cant keep watching the garbage we have been much longer. Later when
there had been chat about money and attendances etc, I told him that
what really matters is what happens on the pitch. That’s why we come and that’s why folk are not coming or will stop coming. Pretty basic but we haven’t got that right for a long time.
At the start of the meeting someone asked why the club didn’t issue a
statement of some kind after the Malmo game?. David Forsyth stepped in
and said that he and some other guy who,s name I didn’t hear had advised
RP against it. I asked that with hindsight did they regret that? They
agreed yes. I also asked RP that as chairman didnt he think about going
with it anyway, as I thought he was badly advised? He nodded.
Overall I thought it was a productive meeting, all the guys there made
their points and none so more than The St Pat’s spokesman. He did rattle
RP and I’m sure he has plenty food for thought. As Jamie said I have no
doubt that RP has the best interests of Hibs at heart. He fought his
corner well on some points and came over as passionate about our club. I
don’t know why I was so surprised but I was. I still feel we need a
football person on the Board but does’nt look like any time soon.
St. Patrick’s a Progressive Supporters Branch