Allan Johnston ‘decided to quit over player sale’

Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston says the decision to sell Robbie Muirhead was behind his decision to step down. Picture: SNS
Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston says the decision to sell Robbie Muirhead was behind his decision to step down. Picture: SNS
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ALLAN Johnston yesterday stunned Kilmarnock by deciding to quit moments before a press conference at Rugby Park.

The Killie manager had not yet informed his players when he told reporters that he will move on when his contract expires in the summer, although it was reported last night that he will leave the club this morning.

Johnston more than hinted that chairman Michael Johnston’s late transfer deadline day decision to sell 18-year-old striker Robbie Muirhead to Dundee United for a reported fee of £150,000 had tipped him over the edge. With Michael Ngoo out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury and Lee Miller struggling

with a knee complaint, Killie, sitting in eighth place in the Scottish Premiership, have only one recognised striker – Josh Magennis – available for tomorrow’s trip to Hamilton.

“I made my mind up before I came in,” said Johnston earlier today, while battling to keep his emotions at bay.

“There is a new chairman [Jim Mann] coming in [at the club’s March AGM] and I think it is important that there is a freshness about the club and it is time to move on anyway.

“Until then I will give 110 per cent.

“There is a number of things but that [Robbie leaving] certainly doesn’t make your job any easier. I never found out Robbie was away until five past 12 [on deadline day]. Stuff like that, it is not the way things are done.

“It was very disappointing.

Especially when you see a lack of goals this season.

“I spoke to the chairman and told him that, if Robbie left, we would only have one fit striker because Michael Ngoo is out for the rest of the season and Lee Miller is a few weeks away.

“I said that we definitely needed to bring another striker in to strengthen the squad.

“He said that, even if Robbie left, then we were not in a position to do that.

“You can see why the club had let him go with only a few months left of his contract.

“But the frustrating part was we didn’t have the chance to strengthen the team, even though we had targets set up.

“It was really difficult to arrive at the decision [to leave]. It is not something you want to do.

“I trust in the players I have got but at the end of the day I think it is the best decision for myself and the club.

“It is disappointing but there is still a job to be done before now and the end of the season.”

Johnston stressed the decision to sell Muirhead without bringing in a replacement was not “not a gamble [he] would like to take” at a club sitting ten points ahead of Motherwell, who are in the relegation play-off spot.

The former Queen of the South manager said: “I don’t think we can afford to. You can see every club strengthening.

“I think it was important to bring in a couple of players so that we are challenging up near the top. It is a difficult situation for the club. We obviously would have loved to keep

Robbie but it was out my hands.

“We are still speaking to the board to see if we can come up with a wee bit of money to try to bring someone in, who has had their contract terminated.

“I don’t think it will affect the players for Saturday’s game. I am still confident in the players we have in the club.

“The players are desperate to put a run together. They want to be challenging for the top six.”

Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston says will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS


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