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Page last updated at 20:10 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 21:10 UK

Kilmarnock chairman Johnston confirms Massone approach

Michael Johnston and Angelo Massone
Killie chairman Johnston would be "cautious" about a bid from Massone

By John Barnes

Michael Johnston has confirmed to BBC Scotland that ex-Livingston chairman Angelo Massone has been in touch about a possible investment in Kilmarnock.

But the Rugby Park chairman pointed out that the approach was made nine months ago and it left him sceptical because of Massone's poor record at Livingston.

"The nature of his interest, what it is he is planning to do and how he would achieve it is opaque," said Johnston.

"Given his involvement with Livingston, and being a solicitor, I'm cautious."

The Italian businessman left Livingston last summer after a year in charge with the club in administration and close to going out of business.

Johnston said: "Mr Massone was in touch with us, maybe around nine months ago, through a financial advisor in Edinburgh and we provided a certain amount of information to that advisor in confidence.

"His interest has been known to us for some time but there has never been any concrete proposal forthcoming.

"I'm naturally cautious about how it all might pan out."

Massone told BBC Scotland earlier this week that he was keen on returning to Scottish football and sees buying the cash-strapped Ayrshire club as a way of achieving that.

When the present Livingston chairman Gordon McDougall heard of the Italian's interest, he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme that anyone who was thinking of dealing with Mr Massone should be "certified".

It's up to him to come forward with the concrete proposal and show that he has the financial backing in place to deliver it

Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston

Johnston said: "I've noted these words of caution and obviously I take them seriously.

"I'm prepared to give people the benefit of the doubt but I think Mr Massone's previous involvement with Livingston means that there is that extra level of caution that has to be attached to any discussions with him.

"We'll certainly look closely at any financial proposals that he puts forward and we would expect it to be robust and open to scrutiny.

"It's up to him to come forward with the concrete proposal in the first instance and show that he has the financial backing in place to deliver it.

"I will naturally treat any approach with a degree of scepticism until it's fully backed up with the appropriate documentation."

The Killie chairman confirmed that despite the club securing their Scottish Premier League status on the last day of the season there will have to be cutbacks for the next campaign.

Their last set of accounts showed a debt of £11m.

But first he hopes to secure manager Jimmy Calderwood on a new contract. His deal expired after the 0-0 draw with Falkirk on Saturday and he has headed for a break in Spain to consider his future.

"I hope he is keen to stay," said Johnston.

"We'll need to sit down and look at the financial situation. He indicated he didn't find the relegation battle a pleasant experience and I can echo those sentiments.

"He's more used to operating in the top six and fighting for places in Europe with a bigger player budget and better remuneration for himself.

"He knows we will be operating on a reduced budget and a reduced squad so he will be weighing up whether he's interested in the job in those circumstances."

Kilmarnock will have a smaller squad for the new season. Last term they had 28 first-team players and that is likely to be reduced to 23 for next season. Three on-loan players - Rob Kiernan and Scott Severin from Watford and Chris Maguire from Aberdeen - have returned to their clubs.

Eleven players are out of contract and decisions still have to be made over who they want to keep.

"There's a lot of planning to be done," admitted Johnston.

"We need to make the finances of it work for us better next season than they did this year.

"We're going to record a significant loss, in the order of £1m, and we can't do that going forward into next season."

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see also
Massone waits for Killie approach
13 May 10 |  Kilmarnock
Calderwood awaits Kilmarnock call
10 May 10 |  Kilmarnock
Massone sells up to depart Livi
31 Jul 09 |  Livingston

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