Kilmarnock playing to save jobs, says manager Lee Clark

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark
Lee Clark's Kilmarnock need to make up a seven-point gap on Hamilton to ensure safety

Lee Clark has told his Kilmarnock players they are fighting to save people's jobs at Rugby Park.

Clark admits non-football staff may have to leave as part of cost-cutting, should the club go down.

He wants his squad to understand it is livelihoods as well as Premiership safety the squad is playing for.

"It's not just about the football side, it's about good people behind the scenes, who are supporters and have been here for many years," he said.

"Usually, when clubs are relegated and have to cost-cut, these people are the first to lose their livelihoods. It's a terrible thing to see and experience.

"We're fighting for them as well."

'Biggest game'

Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark
Clark insists pressure will not faze him

Second-bottom Kilmarnock face Hamilton Academical on Saturday knowing defeat, plus a win or draw for Partick Thistle, would consign the Rugby Park side to at least a relegation play-off against one of the top sides from the Championship.

Clark insists that scenario will not unfold, though, and is adamant his side will prevail at New Douglas Park.

He also believes there will be no mental hangover from Sunday's loss at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, where Kilmarnock took the lead but ended up down to 10 men and losing 3-1.

"[Saturday's match] is the biggest game [of my reign] because it's the next one," he said.

"It's the biggest game because of the situation we're in. We know we've got to win a football match.

"We had to pick everybody up, myself included, because it was a game [against Inverness] in which we shot ourselves in the foot.

"We were in control because we were in the lead, so it was tough on Sunday evening and Monday morning, but we've had a good group meeting.

"We can only affect the future and if we win on Saturday it puts a bit of pressure on [Hamilton]. We're well aware of what's at stake."

Jamie MacDonald, Ross Draper and Liam Polworth
Jamie MacDonald (far left) was sent off in Inverness but Kilmarnock have challenged the red card

Seasoned campaigner

Clark has managed in this situation before, having guided Birmingham City to Championship safety in the final game of the 2013-14 season, although he was also in charge of Blackpool when they were relegated the following year.

He insists the pressure of the circumstances will not faze him or affect his players.

"I've grown up since I was 16 being involved in pressure in football because of the clubs that I played for and the expectation," explained former Newcastle, Sunderland and Fulham player Clark.

"It's what fuels my fire, it's normal for me - get the job in hand done, be focused in what you have to do for the club and get the result.

"If there's too much tension in your body, you can't play to your capabilities and you take too much pressure into the game. We have to stick to the game-plan and go for the win."

The Kilmarnock manager is also hopeful the club will succeed in its appeal against the red card shown to goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald against Inverness, which will be heard on Thursday.

Part of their case includes the admission of Inverness midfielder Ross Draper after the game that he felt he was never going to reach the ball ahead of MacDonald, who was penalised and dismissed for the challenge before Greg Tansey converted the resulting penalty.

If the appeal is rejected, 22-year-old Conor Brennan will deputise for MacDonald.

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport