Hibernian bring in Williamson as new manager

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The Independent Online

Bobby Williamson has pleaded with Kilmarnock chairman Sir John Orr to forgive him and drop his threat of legal action after being unveiled as Hibernian's new manager.

The disgruntled Rugby Park chief announced he would be taking action after Williamson and his assistant Gerry McCabe handed in their written resignations to the board yesterday.

Their dramatic actions came after Kilmarnock rejected Hibernian's offer of compensation – but at a press conference this morning they were unveiled as the new management team.

Williamson claimed he needed to act swiftly with his new club in danger of being relegated and urged Orr to withdraw his threat. "I haven't got any money," joked Williamson, "I hope it doesn't come to that and I leave on amicable terms.

"Somebody had to make a decision and this time it was me that made the decision to come here. Kilmarnock gave Hibernian the right to speak to me. I knew it was very important to get in here as quickly as possible and get the team sorted out."

Hibernian's managing director Rod Petrie said the club would revive talks with Williamson's former employers and that they were still hopeful of agreeing a compensation package.

"I'm not prepared to talk about the finer details between the two clubs because we have a lot of respect for each other," he said.

"We can understand them wanting the best possible deal and we respect their decision to turn our offer down. Whether a compromise can be made remains to be seen, but hopefully both clubs can come to sort of arrangement."

But Williamson admitted it was a huge wrench to turn his back on Kilmarnock. He had spent 12 years at Rugby Park as a player and manager and admitted the decision to quit the Ayrshire outfit for the capital was not an easy one.

"It was a very difficult decision for me to make," said Williamson. "There are a lot of people there that I like and admire so it was a huge wrench leaving the club. The fans were also great at Kilmarnock, but I hope they understand my decision for leaving. It is sad to leave – but I genuinely hope they do well with the players they have got there. I'm glad that we don't have to play them again this season. I wouldn't like to take any points off them."

"I am honoured and privileged to be the new manager of Hibernian Football Club and I'm delighted to be here. The last few days have been traumatic because I spent a lot of years at the club."

Williamson admitted the decision to swap jobs was a risk, but admitted Hibernian's new infrastructure took his breath away. "This is a massive club and the infrastructure here actually took my breath away. There's huge potential here."

Williamson takes his backroom staff of Gerry McCabe and Jim Clark with him after all signed five–year deals. Clark was the only one to get the Kilmarnock board's blessing to leave and he will join up with the duo tomorrow.

Hibernian were given permission to approach Williamson on Friday after sacking Franck Sauzee, a decision which sparked anger among the supporters.

Chairman Malcolm McPherson admitted the week had been traumatic, but hoped the fans would welcome Williamson's appointment. "This has been the worst kept secret in Scottish football, but Bobby Williamson has agreed to become the new manager of Hibernian Football Club and we are delighted," he said. "This has been a traumatic week for the club and there's been a lot of emotion, both inside and outside the club."

And Williamson is relishing his new role. "I'm leaving Kilmarnock for a club that is as big if not bigger than Kilmarnock and for a fresh challenge. They've made me, Gerry and Jim very welcome and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Williamson's first task will be to lift his new team for the vital visit of bottom side St Johnstone on Saturday.

Hibernian are nine points clear of the bottom side and the new boss is confident of turning the club's fortunes around. "I am looking forward to it, and they have good players here so I don't think it's going to be that difficult" Williamson added. "Confidence is low, but there are some good players here and a new manager coming in might lift the players. I know they have had a few injuries, but they have a reasonable size squad who are capable of getting results."

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