Killie to stick with Premiership player fund as Tommy Wright plans promotion bid

Kilmarnock v Dundee – Scottish Premiership – Play-off Final – Second Leg – The BBSP Stadium Rugby Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Kilmarnock are ready to back Tommy Wright with the funds he needs to make sure the Rugby Park side bounce back from relegation at the first attempt.

The Northern Irishman was hired in February to protect and extend the club’s 28-year run in the top flight.

But a team who finished third just two years ago are now sliding towards the second tier after defeat to Dundee in their Scottish Premiership play-off final.

However, club owner Billy Bowie is adamant Killie will return stronger.

He told Killie TV: “At the moment I’m really gutted. I’m gutted for the fans as well and I want to apologise for our performance this year and getting us in the position we’re in.

“I’m stuck for words. It’s been a tough season for us all. But we are going to bounce back.

“We’ve haemorrhaged a lot of money to keep the club going – but at the end of the day we’re still going to keep it going.”

Wright was able to bring in free agent Kyle Lafferty in a bid to solve the club’s chronic lack of goals.

His fellow Northern Irishman scored 13 in as many games to give the Ayrshire side hope of survival but a shocking defensive record came back to haunt them in the demotion shoot-out with James McPake’s Dens outfit, who regained their place among the big boys with a 4-2 aggregate win.

With the transfer window shut when he arrived, Wright’s hands were tied, but director Phyllis McLeish has confirmed Wright will be able to keep his Premiership budget in the Championship.

Cut-backs elsewhere will, however, have to be made as the club prepare for a massive drop in income.

“Obviously we’ve been looking down the barrel of a gun for more than a couple of weeks,” she said. “So we have been speaking about what’s going to happen in the future.

“We decided last week that whatever happened against Dundee we ware going to stick with the player budget we’ve got. There will not be a reduction.

“There will be impacts in other areas of the club obviously.

“Our turnover is going to go down and we need to manage that. But we will manage that.

“If we have to go down to the Championship then we want it to be brief and to give Tommy and the team he is going to rebuild over the summer every possible chance to make it a very brief sojourn in the Championship.

“It’s been a miserable season for many, many factors. We’ve had the Covid thing, the way we were treated during Covid – it wasn’t great.

“I don’t think you can underestimate the impact that had on everyone at the club: players, staff, everyone.

“But it’s football and these things happen. You just have to keep moving forward and we are. We are committed to that.

“This is not a great time but next week we will all rally forward, do our best in the transfer window and move forward.

“We’re all united in that we do think we do have the right manager now and we have confidence in him.

“He came in a bit too late but that’s not Tommy’s fault.

“We do have the right manager in now. We can rebuild and we will rebuild.”

Wright has two years still to run on his Rugby Park deal but the 57-year-old was reluctant to discuss his own future after the bitter blow of defeat to Dundee.

“Listen, I’m raw at the minute,” he said after the match. “I know I’ll get the support of the job.

“It’s not my future that needs to be discussed tonight.

“I’m more concerned about the people who work in the background of this club and the people of the town. That’s my concern tonight. My future will be sorted.

“There’s a rebuild job now. I think there’s only four or five signed players now. One or two others may have been getting contracts even if we went down. I might have to revisit that.”

Wright spent Tuesday meeting members of his squad to break the news to them about whether or not they were being kept on. Striker Cameron Innes, 20, will be back next season after he was offered a new two-year deal.

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