Kilmarnock have appointed Kenny Shiels as manager

Kilmarnock have confirmed Kenny Shiels' appointment as manager on a permanent basis.

Shiels had been caretaker at Rugby Park since Mixu Paatelainen was appointed Finland coach in March.

"I am delighted to be here as manager of such an historic football club, the oldest professional club in Scotland," said Shiels.

"We want to continue the way we play and we want the players and supporters to enjoy themselves."

Despite speculation about Shiels' future in light of his lost-four, drawn-four record in caretaker charge, he has been handed a one-year contract.

Fellow Northern Irishman Jimmy Nicholl, manager of Cowdenbeath last season, becomes Shiels' assistant, also on a one-year deal.

It is Nicholl's second time as assistant at Killie, after serving as Jimmy Calderwood's right-hand man during the side's successful campaign to avoid relegation in 2009.

Jimmy Nicholl
Nicholl resigned after Cowdenbeath were relegated from Division One

Shiels has previously managed Coleraine, Ballymena United, Larne and Carrick Rangers in his homeland but had spent three years as head of youth at Tranmere Rovers when he was asked to become Paatelainen's assistant last summer.

And the new manager has insisted that his footballing philosophy will not change, despite facing a summer of rebuilding at Rugby Park.

Scotland international Craig Bryson was sold to Derby County, while fellow midfielder Mehdi Taouil rejected a new contract and has signed for Hearts.

Frazer Wright and fellow defender Jamie Hamill preferred to sign for SPL rivals St Johnstone and Hearts respectively, although Scotland squad goalkeeper Cammy Bell is likely to stay on at Rugby Park.

Defender Mahamadou Sissoko and playmaker Alexei Eremenko both returned to their parent clubs at the end of their loan spells in Ayrshire.

However, despite conceding the club had been "victims of their own success", the Rugby Park boss insisted the club's fans had nothing to fear from the season ahead, as he announced the capture of striker Paul Heffernan as his first signing.

Heffernan is a free agent after he was released by Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the season.

And Shiels is hopeful of following up the capture of the Dublin-born 29-year-old by signing Dundee midfielder Gary Harkins. He is also working tirelessly to add more new faces to the playing staff.

"There's thousands of players out of work at the moment, and I have got to make sure they fit the DNA of how we want to play, and that's what I am pursuing. We want to entertain, want to pass the ball."

Embattled Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston used the occasion of Shiels' appointment to assure fans that the club's financial position is fairly healthy and that the club's debt was continuing to decrease.

Shiels defended his chairman against those supporters calling for his exit.

"The chairman has worked really, really hard with me to try and get players in and he's given me great support," he said.