That statement has been backed by the former manager, who said: “No, it wasn’t to do with the Kevin Kyle incident. We had a chat and Billy and I felt it was the right time to move on and give the club a fresh start. Sometimes you go through life and you disagree on things but that’s football. We’ve come to a stage where it’s best for all parties that we move on.”

Jefferies had been linked with the Dundee United job – although it is understood that he will not be considered – and has also been tipped as a potential candidate for the Motherwell position.

While he insisted that was nothing but speculation, the 59-year-old admits he is keen to seek employment as soon as possible: “Breaks depend on whether you get offers for jobs,” he said. “I’ve still got a hunger for the job and for a different challenge. I just have to wait and see if that comes along. If not, I’ll enjoy a wee break.”

Meanwhile, Johnston has told fans they face a wait to learn who will replace Jefferies. “We are not planning to make a full-time appointment any time soon,” he said. “We are going to take time and look at the options. We will make interim arrangements.”

Asked about his own future, Johnston added: “I don’t know whether I will stay long-term or not. This is my fifth season as chairman and what I’ve been trying to do is reduce the debt. We have managed to do that, we have knocked £1.5m off the core debt.

“We will keep battling away and until some multi-millionaire comes along and is willing to splash money, I will continue to do the best I can to keep the business going.”

The players will have to do likewise on the pitch, with defender Simon Ford admitting that it is time for the squad to stand up and be counted after winning just three matches in the opening half of the season.

“The manager can only do so much,” Ford admitted. “We’ve not being doing it on the pitch. Our job now is to keep Kilmarnock in the SPL and prove to everyone that we are good players.”