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“The board have learnt lessons, we need coaching stability,” says Leicester Tigers chief executive

Leicester Tigers

Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen admits it could take time for them to be challenging for top honours again after their worst ever Premiership campaign.

Relegation has been narrowly avoided but calls for the heads of Cohen and the club’s management board have intensified among disgruntled fans, while former Tigers back and TV pundit Austin Healey has demanded wholesale change.

Cohen admits mistakes have been made but insists he retains the confidence of his board as he continues the process of revamping the playing department, which is likely to see an older hand introduced alongside head coach Geordan Murphy.

Cohen said: “I’m an employee of the club and I work for the board. They can terminate my contract at any time but I have absolutely no intention of resigning whatsoever – I’m sure much to the disappointment of 24,000 fans.

“There are some very forthright characters on our board and, as far as I’m aware, I have their confidence. They would tell me if they wanted me to go.”

On calls for wholesale change, Cohen added: “If you have a really bad season everybody has to look at what they could’ve done better. As management board members it happened on our watch.

“When people talk about the board going, though, that’s not helpful because there are some outstanding people on there. To sack someone like Terry Gateley, who’s an outstanding financial brain, would be totally counter-productive.

“Instead, what you must do is learn the lessons and we certainly need some coaching stability. Geordan Murphy will be our man, but we want to get as much experience in the environment around him as we can.”

Australia coach Michael Cheika has been linked, while Mike Ford remains an option, but Cohen said: “Pat Howard’s been in and we’ll take his thoughts on board and work out the best structure for us.”

Cohen warns it could take three years to sort out the mess created by having three different head coaches since Richard Cockerill was fired in January 2017.

Righting the ship: Leicester Tigers long-standing chief executive Simon Cohen

Murphy is the third after Aaron Mauger and Matt O’Connor were similarly disposed of, with Cohen saying: “It will be a full contract cycle before you see Geordan Murphy’s team – generally that’s three years.

“We learnt some months ago that we didn’t have the balance right in the squad in terms of those away on international duty and those here all the time.

“The balance between backs and forwards wasn’t right either and that’s starting to be redressed. As long as we have learned those lessons, we’ll come through this tough period.”

Cohen opened up on abusive fans who prompted the club to summon police. Cohen, who has been subjected to horrific personal abuse, explained: “It’s been as tough as anything I’ve ever known professionally and difficult across the business, for the playing side and commercial staff.

“When one of the players gets something on twitter saying ‘I hope your wife and mother die of cancer’, that’s as bad as it gets and the police are investigating. If anyone is successfully prosecuted, they’ll be banned for life.”

Cohen insists the club still supports promotion and relegation. He added: “It’s still the right thing. It’s part of being competitive and our stance has never changed. It would be hypocritical if it did.”

NEALE HARVEY / Photo: Getty Images

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