Derek McInnes promised record Kilmarnock transfer budget as Billy Bowie sets sights on Premiership top six

Kilmarnock supremo Billy Bowie has promised Derek McInnes the biggest transfer kitty in the club’s history this summer after watching the new boss lead his side back to the top flight.

Killie secured the Championship title in dramatic style on Friday night after Blair Alston’s 90th minute winner finally ended the heroic challenge of Arbroath in front of a turbo-charged 11,500 crowd at Rugby Park.

Bowie admits he got carried away in the bedlam that followed the last gasp clincher – a frenzy on a scale he has never witnessed at the ground before.

But the owner was deadly serious as he targeted a top six spot on their Premiership return next season.

After watching McInnes turn their faltering fortunes around to ensure their Championship stay lasted only one season, Bowie admits the former Aberdeen boss’ magic touch gives him hope for next season.

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He said: “Definitely. When I’m about the place I can see the way they train and I see his work ethic with the squad.

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“We’ve already discussed the future with him and this summer he’ll be given the biggest budget ever in Kilmarnock’s history.

“I’ve been here for nine years now and you get to know what’s right for the club and we know the budget we require to become a top-six club.

“There’s a calmness about Derek which gives us confidence. He’s gone higher than top six before and that would be nice but we’ll go for top six for starters.

“We can enjoy the summer now, knowing we have an extra month in which to gather our thoughts.”

Killie have lost just once in their last 11 and McInnes’ 33 point haul from 16 games is enough to give them a four point cushion over Arbroath going into the final matchday on Friday.

Blair Alston’s goal clinched the title

But they actually looked to have placed possession of the title destiny in Dick Campbell’s hands as they trailed 1-0 to James Craigen’s early goal.

A 78th minute leveler from Ash Taylor sent waves of relief surging round Rugby Park before Alston’s composed 90th minute strike took the roof off the ground.

Bowie said: “There was nervousness throughout but it was great when the winner went in – you could see the relief by our reaction to both of the goals.

“In fact, relief would be a mild way of describing it. I’ve never known a response like that at Rugby Park before, from the supporters as well as ourselves.

“Directors normally just applaud when we score during games but we erupted like everyone else on Friday night. Even when we were beating Celtic and Rangers here during Steve Clarke’s time in charge it wasn’t like this.

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“There were 10,000 Kilmarnock fans in the ground. We’ve had bigger crowds before but you need to go back until 1995 until the last time we had more of our own supporters at a game here. It was fantastic.”

Bowie, who has been on the board for nine years, insists the atmosphere shows exactly what the club is capable of.

He said: “It does and it lets us know we can do more and go further as well.

“Had we pushed the boat out to come back up straight away? Absolutely – and it would have been tough if we’d had to go through it all again next season.

“But we’re glad we’ve done it: we said we would and now we have.

“Other big clubs haven’t been able to get out of the Championship at the first attempt so we’ll just put that down to experience.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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