Dundee United have confirmed the appointment of Ray McKinnon as Mixu Paatelainen’s successor after talks with the Raith Rovers manager reached a successful conclusion last night.
Talks were on-going yesterday to appoint McKinnon as manager and he’s likely to be unveiled next week, after the relegated Tannadice club’s last game of the season on Saturday against Kilmarnock.
The former Raith Rovers and Brechin City manager has signed a three-year deal with the goal of helping the club return to the top flight as quickly as possible.
McKinnon, who played for United in two spells in the 1990s, was hotly tipped to return to his former club even before Paatelainen’s troubled six-month reign as manager came to an end last week.
McKinnon resigned as Raith boss last night and the Fife club’s chief executive Eric Drysdale said: “Everyone at the club is naturally very disappointed that Ray has reached this decision, and we certainly did everything in our power, and then more, to try to retain his services.
“He leaves Raith Rovers with thanks and best wishes for the future. Ray has built a terrific squad of players with tremendous team spirit, and that will be his legacy.”
The 45-year-old impressed in his first full season as Raith manager, leading the club into the play-offs, where they were narrowly beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Hibs last week.
He has been in negotiations with Thompson this week after Raith granted Dundee United’s request to speak with their manager after agreeing a compensation figure. An initial approach made by United on Saturday, just hours after Raith’s 2-0 defeat to Hibs, was turned down by the Kirkcaldy club.
But McKinnon’s recruitment yesterday came at the end of a bruising day for United. Thomson resigned from the SPFL board in protest at the “severity of the sanction” meted out to the club for using ineligible players in their win over Inverness last Friday.
Already relegated United have been docked three points and fined £30,000, part of which is suspended.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon, United labelled the punishment “wholly disproportionate for what was a simple honest, human error”. The club criticised a decision that “punished” travelling fans, who celebrated what they thought was only United’s seventh win of the league season. “The club will examine ways to make this up to them,” a statement said.
Thompson would have been required to step down from the SPFL board this summer in any case as he is one of three Premiership representatives. Now Dundee United are confirmed as playing Championship football next season, Thompson could still seek re-election as one of two Championship representatives on the board. It is understood he informed the SPFL he did not wish to be considered.
Thompson’s decision creates a vacancy on the board for a Premiership representative. Hearts owner and chairwoman Ann Budge lost out to Thompson last year and is understood to be considering re-applying for the position this summer. Budge recently stated that she would like to think she could bring “a different way of looking at things”.
Thompson was unavailable for comment last night as he seethed about this latest sting to the tail in a season in which United have not had their troubles to seek.
The Tannadice club admitted they were in error for the administrative oversight. Paatelainen left the club last week just three days prior to the game against Inverness. Ali Coote, who came on as a 76th minute substitute, and Jamie Robson, who was an unused sub, had not been re-registered by United after spells at other clubs. Dundee United won the game 3-2 but must now forfeit the points, meaning they are now on just 25 points – ten points adrift of 11th-placed Kilmarnock.
Coote was at East Fife on loan earlier this season while Robson was at Brechin City, where he signed an emergency loan deal until the end of the season. Coote, meanwhile, joined League 2 champions East Fife in January. Both players returned to their parent club at the end of their loan sides’ seasons and were drafted into the squad last week. Caretaker manager Gordon Young wanted to run the rule over some of the club’s youngsters after relegation to the Championship was confirmed by a defeat by Dundee last Monday.
The Tannadice club admitted breaching SPFL player regulations at a briefing in Glasgow yesterday. The SPFL disciplinary hearing concluded that replaying the game before the end of the season was not practical. Peterhead were forced to replay a fixture against Ayr United in 2014 after fielding an ineligible player and were also fined £10,000.
Thompson resigned from his position on the SPFL board with immediate effect shortly after the hearing yesterday.
“He has expressed his shock and anger at the severity of the sanction imposed by the SPFL in relation to a rule breach in our recent Ladbrokes Premiership fixture versus Inverness Caley Thistle,” said a statement from United.
“Whilst acknowledging the club’s error and accepting a breach of rules occurred, the chairman feels the gravity of the punishment is wholly disproportionate for what was a simple honest, human error.
“We await the full written judgment after which we will consider our next action.
“Our travelling fans are the ones who have been punished the most here and the club will examine ways to make this up to them.”