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Killie chairman slams 'hero' Kyle

By John Barnes

Jim Jefferies, Michael Johnston and Kevin Kyle
Jefferies, Johnston and Kyle are involved in intrigue at Rugby Park

Kevin Kyle faces disciplinary measures from Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston over controversial comments attributed to him in newspapers.

In the Daily Record, the Killie captain criticised the lack of a club doctor.

And this week in The Sun, Kyle said Johnston had asked him for his opinion on manager Jim Jefferies' tactics, a claim that Johnston refutes.

"The question of tactics was raised by Kevin. If I wanted to talk tactics, I'd discuss it with the manager," he said.

Kyle claims the chairman asked him if he would discreetly mind talking about the manager's decisions and, after refusing to comment, immediately informed Jefferies of what had happened.

But on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday, Johnston gave his version of the conversation that took place between him and club captain Kyle, denying that he was the one who chose to discuss tactics.

"It was a subject raised by Kevin. I telephoned him to invite him to a discussion about a press article which appeared in the Daily Record on 1 January in which he made some comments about internal matters relating to medical facilities," said Johnston.

I don't think he has thought through the consequences of his actions

Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston on Kevin Kyle's claims

"I also said it would be an opportunity to discuss his contract extension.

"In the telephone conversation I asked Kevin about the match at St Mirren which we had lost 1-0 the previous day and he complained about a lack of service in the box.

"The question of tactics was raised by him. I acknowledged his concern over tactics but I certainly didn't raise the subject and I didn't question him on it and I didn't ask him to a meeting to discuss tactics."

Johnston wants to establish that Kyle has, in fact, been quoted accurately in both newspaper articles before taking punitive measures against the club's main goal threat.

"I have to establish with Kevin if he has been accurately reported," he added. "If that is the case, there will be a disciplinary hearing.

"He is, on the face of it, in breach of his player contract.

"It is hugely disappointing when the team captain, who has been treated as a hero at Rugby Park, goes to the press with something like this.

"I don't think he realises how disruptive it is for the club, for the supporters and sponsors.

"I don't think he has thought through the consequences of his actions."

And in an interesting twist, Johnston claims that Jefferies' anger will be directed not at him for questioning the club manager's judgement, but at his centre-forward.

"Jim Jefferies will be seriously let down by all of this because he phoned Kevin Kyle on Thursday evening before this article in the Sun was published and instructed him to withdraw his comments because Jim recognised that this wasn't a good thing for the club," said the Rugby Park chairman.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

"He has let down the manager and the club and it is a huge distraction for the players at a critical time of the season.

"There is too much of Kilmarnock's affairs being paraded in the media. I don't know who is doing it or why but it's distracting and unprofessional and it has to stop."

Relations between Jefferies and his chairman have been strained and, if Kyle's claims are true, the manager is likely to see this as an attempt to undermine his position, who have slipped to second bottom of the SPL after winning just one of their last nine games.

The manager, who is under contract until May 2012, has lost coach Gary Locke, chief scout John Harvey, the club doctor and a video analysis editor in a series of cuts.

Kyle, meanwhile, is out of contract in May and Johnston says it was his intention to offer the former Sunderland striker an extension.

He said: "When Kevin joined us, initially he wanted only a six-month contract and I said 'no, it's an 18-month contract minimum'.

"He agreed to that and was very successful last season. He has been treated as a hero so we are keen to keep him.

"I wanted to talk to him about an extension in the summer, and he wanted to wait until the turn of the year to see what his options were.

"He is clearly frustrated that he is not getting the opportunity to put himself in the shop window that he thought he would this season. There has been no interest in him whatsoever."



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see also
Moffat move to reduce Killie debt
19 Dec 09 |  Kilmarnock
Killie hope to resolve fines row
10 Nov 09 |  Kilmarnock
Killie withdraw Locke coach offer
28 Jul 09 |  Kilmarnock


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