Shiels looks to bolster community bond

PA Sport
Kenny Shiels
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Kenny Shiels

Kenny Shiels signed a new two-year deal as Kilmarnock boss and revealed his ambition is to make the "people's club" more popular.

The Northern Irishman brought the Scottish Communities League Cup to Rugby Park for the first time in March following their 1-0 win over Celtic, an achievement which helped attract concrete interest from one English club, reported to be npower League One outfit Bournemouth.

However, Shiels, who was appointed permanent successor to Mixu Paatelainen last June following a spell as assistant, ended speculation about his future by extending his stay at the Ayrshire club - then vowed to get more supporters through the gates at a club who have traditionally suffered from being so close to Glasgow.

"I didn't have a decision to make," Shiels told Press Association Sport. "I was just delighted to be offered the job. I am so proud to be manager of this historic club, it gives me great satisfaction to be here.

"There was a club interested in me, I was asked to go down to England for an interview which I refused because I am not ready for that. I want to be here. I don't think that is relevant because it is important that we look at the future of Kilmarnock Football Club and that is where I want to be.

"It goes without saying that it is the people's club. The community and the club are joined at the hip. We have a great connection and it is great to be part of that.

"We have a lot in common, we have common principles and we are looking to bring more supporters here, real supporters who will support Kilmarnock.

"My aspirations are to try to achieve about 60% of the football community here to come to support their local club. It's a good place for parents to send their children."

The Rugby Park side missed out on a top-six place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, finishing seventh, but Shiels was keen to play down any perception that the historic League Cup win was the main reason he was offered a new deal.

"I don't think the League Cup sealed my contract because if we had not won the League Cup it was still a fantastic season," he said. "You have to put it in perspective - what is a successful season for a club like Kilmarnock? A successful season is a consolidated league position and try to improve the product and amount of people who come through the gate."

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