KILMARNOCK chairman Michael Johnston has described claims that he demanded at least £1 million for his shares as “wholly inaccurate”.
Johnston has been under major pressure from supporters and local businesses to hand over the club since sacking Kenny Shiels as manager last month.
A group of companies who are keen to take the club out of Johnston’s hands yesterday released a statement claiming that the Rugby Park chairman had asked for a seven-figure sum for Kilmarnock, who have debts of almost £10m. Johnston bought his stake for £1 in 2005, with predecessor Jamie Moffat going on to write off half of his £1.8m loan to the club in 2010.
The Ayrshire Business Group released a statement through leader John Gall, managing director of Browning’s the Bakers.
It read: “One group member advised that Michael Johnston, current chairman of Kilmarnock Football Club, has formally intimated that a seven-figure sum for his shareholding, in addition to the settlement of former owner Jamie Moffat’s loan, is required for him to hand over control of the club.
“The group are collectively astonished by Mr Johnston’s valuation and shocked by his blatant profiteering. They have unanimously agreed that any such investment would be better utilised directly in the club. The group reiterated their strong belief that Mr Johnston should only be entitled to the £1 he paid for the shares in 2005, and they reject the exorbitant price stated by Mr Johnston.”
Johnston, the sole member of the club’s board, quickly refuted the allegations. He said: “The statement from the group is wholly inaccurate.
“I have not made any proposal to anybody regarding the takeover of my shares or any loan to be repaid to Jamie Moffat. Following a meeting with (former chairman) Bill Costley last month, I told him I would be happy to meet with the Ayrshire group but I haven’t heard from anyone.”
The consortium of Ayrshire firms vowed to persevere in their bid to change the ownership.
The statement released yesterday continued: “The group regard this current setback as hugely disappointing for the fans, however, the group remains 100 per cent committed in taking over the cash-strapped club and building on the current momentum for regime change.
“The group members are more determined than ever and will continue to meet with other like-minded businesses and fans who share the same belief that change is crucial to the long-term sustainability of the Kilmarnock Football Club.”