Hibernian sack head coach Paul Heckingbottom

Hibernian have sacked head coach Paul Heckingbottom after less than nine months in the role.

Hibs have not won in the Ladbrokes Premiership since the opening day of the season and sit third-bottom, a point above Hearts and St Mirren.

The Easter Road board have acted following a 5-2 defeat by Celtic in the Betfred Cup semi-finals.

A brief club statement read: “Hibernian FC today announced that head coach Paul Heckingbottom and his assistant coach, Robbie Stockdale, have been relieved of their duties at the club.

“Head of player development Eddie May will take charge of the team on an interim basis – supported by assistant coach Grant Murray and Steven Whittaker.

“Supporters can expect further comment from the club in the coming days.”

Heckingbottom had a promising start to life in Scottish football, taking Hibs from the bottom half to a push for a European place after replacing Neil Lennon on February 13.

The 42-year-old did not taste defeat in his first 10 league matches before Hibs’ season tailed off with three consecutive defeats after a Europa League slot slipped out of their reach.

Heckingbottom’s summer signings, who mainly came from the English Football League, failed to drive the team forward.

His relationship with the fans was initially strong but the first real signs of tension came when he claimed “anxiety” from the stands had spread to the players and was a factor in them losing a lead against St Johnstone in August.

And with United States-based owner Ron Gordon having taken over in July, Heckingbottom’s position appeared less certain following a slow start to the campaign.

Their results included a 6-1 defeat by Rangers, a 3-0 loss against Motherwell and an Easter Road derby defeat in what remains Hearts’ only league win, results which saw some fans call for his head.

The former Barnsley and Leeds boss at times admitted there was a softness about his team and in the end he found victories too hard to come by – securing only one in his last 16 Premiership matches.