Kilmarnock: Gary Locke confirmed as permanent manager

Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke and chairman Jim Mann
Locke and his chairman Jim Mann pose for photographs

Gary Locke has been confirmed as permanent Kilmarnock manager on a three-year deal.

The 39-year-old has been in charge for seven matches - losing just once - since Allan Johnston's departure.

A former Killie player, Locke re-joined the club as Johnston's assistant last summer and was put in interim charge in early February.

"I am absolutely delighted, it's a great opportunity for me and for the club," Locke told the club website.external-link

"I would like to say a huge thank-you to the players as it was up to them to help me get the job and they have done just that, I'm over the moon.

"Without Allan Johnston's encouragement and the backing of the board I would not be in this position today, I am grateful for all their support."

The Rugby Park side, who host Motherwell on Saturday, are currently eighth in the Scottish Premiership, four points off the top six.

"Over the last seven to eight weeks our fans' support has made such a difference, I am looking forward to stepping out here tomorrow as manager of the club," said Locke, who was previously boss of Hearts.

"Now things have been confirmed I will be looking to put some plans in place. I would really like to bring sports science to the club, that is a key factor for me to help make us more competitive.

"We need to be producing young players, I am aware that's what our fans would like to see. If we can make our young players quicker and stronger that will be beneficial to the club as a whole."

New club chairman Jim Mann added: "I am delighted we have been able to secure Gary on a permanent basis for the next three years.

Kilmarnock players celebrating
Under Locke, Killie have won twice, drawn four and lost one

"Over the last few weeks almost every player has come up to me and told me we need to appoint him as manager - I think that is a great testament to his man-management skills and the energy he has brought to training since taking over.

"This, added to our recent results on the park, put Gary in a very strong position.

"I was also conscious when hiring that we needed a long-term plan, we needed someone who was capable of helping us develop our very own style of football - 'the Killie Way' - and ensuring that it filtered down the club.

"After spending some considerable time with Gary over the last few months, I have no doubt he is the person to do this. We all wish him the best of luck going forward."