Coyle, who is on gardening leave while compensation is thrashed out, has chosen to leave Burnley having guided them to 14th place in the Premier League. Bolton, meanwhile, lie 18th in the table, leaving Kilby dismayed at Coyle’s departure.
“It was a surprise,” he said. “I fully expected when Owen did move from here – he was an ambitious manager and we accepted that might happen – that he would go upwards from Burnley FC, not to someone who is sideways, a club who we are fighting in a relegation scrap with.”
Coyle is moving at least partly for sentimental reasons, having enjoyed a successful spell at Bolton as a player in the 1990s. The Scot’s move is expected to be rubber-stamped by the weekend, in time for the Trotters’ trip to Sunderland on Saturday.
Kilby added: “He said to me that there was only Celtic or Bolton he would leave Burnley for. I don’t think he took the decision lightly. It has been a trauma for the football club. None of us wanted Owen to go and it was a shock when this broke.”
Burnley have confirmed that coach Steve Davis will take charge for Saturday’s fixture against Stoke, while the club embark on their search for Coyle’s permanent successor. Former Reading boss Steve Coppell and Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan were the bookies’ favourite last night. Swansea have told the Clarets to forget about trying to lure their boss Paulo Sousa.