Kilmarnock have denied reports that manager Kenny Shiels has been sacked – but say that his position will be resolved at a meeting this week.
Reports suggested the Northern Irishman had been dismissed by Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston on Saturday night. But last night the club insisted that the 57-year-old is still in a job for now.
His role as Rugby Park manager will, however, be re-examined after the team failed to finish outside of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League’s bottom three.
A four-match ban handed to Shiels following outspoken media comments will also be taken into consideration – as will “other internal problems” concerning the manager.
A club spokesman said: “We have not sacked Kenny. As was reported yesterday, Kenny’s position is under review at present due to his failure to meet a contractual performance related target and potential breaches of contract relating to media comments and observance of Scottish FA Articles and Rules and SPL Articles and Rules.
“In successive seasons we have finished fifth, seventh and now ninth. Our home record last season was the worst for over 30 years. These factors, along with the well documented SFA disciplinary issues and other internal problems concerning Kenny’s conduct have necessitated the review. The outcome will be announced next week.”
Shiels signed a two-year deal with Kilmarnock last summer just months after leading the club to the Scottish Communities League Cup with a 1-0 win over Celtic. But the agreement includes a clause allowing the club to sack him for failing to finish high enough up the table.
The Ayrshire outfit finished ninth in the SPL despite needing just one win from their final two games before the split to clinch a top-six slot.
The terms of Shiels’ contract were revealed in a newspaper article at the weekend and the club have been angered by the revelation. “Yesterday’s Sun article was the result of a briefing from ‘a source close to Kenny’ and represented a serious breach of trust regarding a confidential internal process,” said the spokesman.
“This necessitated clarification from the club on a matter which we would have preferred to keep ‘in house’ and is extremely regrettable as it makes Kenny’s situation even more difficult.”
Shiels also landed himself in trouble after claiming Celtic “were the monster of Scottish football” following a row with Parkhead manager Neil Lennon.
The spat was sparked by Lennon’s complaints about the PFA Scotland player of the year shortlist, with the Celtic boss bemoaning the fact none of his players had been nominated for the main award.
But Shiels then gave an interview with BBC Radio Scotland at the end of April in which he said of Celtic: “They have got a massive influence in the judicial panel and things like that, decisions that’s made. Celtic are the monster of Scottish football.”
The Kilmarnock manager was accused of both bringing the game into disrepute and not acting in the best interests of football. He was found guilty of the charge and handed a four-match ban, with two of those suspended until the end of next season.
His club were also found guilty of failing to ensure that Shiels complies with Scottish Football Association protocol.