The 50-year-old has signed an 18-month deal to replace Tommy Wright, who was sacked last month as relations between him, the club and the fans deteriorated, and will be in charge for Kilmarnock’s next cinch Championship match on Saturday away at Queen of the South.
The Rugby Park outfit currently sit fourth in the league as they try to bounce back to the Premiership following relegation last season.
McInnes has been out of football management since March last year after he left Aberdeen by mutual consent following eight years at the Pittodrie club. His backroom team has yet to be announced, although long-serving assistant Tony Docherty is expected to join him in Ayrshire.
“I’m delighted to be here and I’m well aware of the potential of the club having played and managed against Kilmarnock over the years,” McInnes said. “I remember the Tommy Burns era and more recently Steve Clarke bringing good success and consistency.
“I know the backing from the fans can make this club special so for me it is a great opportunity.”
Kilmarnock director Billy Bowie said: “Derek is one of the most highly respected managers in Scottish football and we are thrilled that he’s agreed to join Kilmarnock.”
“From our discussions, it was clear he shared our determination and ambition to bring success to our club and we look forward to working with him to achieve our goals for this season and beyond.”
Kilmarnock also confirmed in a statement that coaches Paul Stephenson and Alan Maybury have left the club.
McInnes, a former player with Morton, Rangers, West Brom and Dundee United among others, started his managerial career at St Johnstone in 2007, spending four years in Perth before Bristol City appointed him in 2011 with the remit of keeping them in England’s Championship. He succeeded in doing so, but his second season started badly and he was sacked in January 2013. Two months later, Aberdeen brought him in as a successor to Mark McGhee.
McInnes guided Aberdeen to three cup finals during his spell as Aberdeen manager, resurrecting the club from mid-table obscurity to regular qualifiers for Europe. He won the League Cup in 2014 but lost both the League and Scottish Cup finals to Celtic in 2017.
Later that year, both Sunderland and Rangers approached Aberdeen to speak to McInnes about vacancies at their clubs, but he rejected both of them and signed a three-year contract extension in 2019.
His tenure at Pittodrie fizzled out last season, with a section of the fanbase turning against him and calling for change.
However, Kilmarnock will see it as a significant coup in landing McInnes, who has kept himself busy with punditry work for Premier Sports. He has never hidden his desire to get back into management though and will be tasked with ensuring that Kilmarnock return to the Premiership. They still remain the bookmakers’ favourites to win the Championship and are currently five points behind leaders Arbroath with a game in hand.