THE new manager of Kelty Hearts has begun preparations for life in the SPFL by making his first signing and tying up four key stars on new contracts.

In a whirlwind 24 hours at New Central Park, the club announced on Friday that former Hibernian and Rangers midfielder, Kevin Thomson, would be picking up the reigns from Barry Ferguson.

The 36-year-old, who also turned out for Middlesbrough, Dundee and the Scotland national side during his playing career, left his role within Rangers' academy to take up the post at the newly promoted SPFL League Two side.

And he wasted little time in making his mark as, on Saturday, it was announced that former Dundee and Hibernian centre back, Jordon Forster, would be his first signing.

In addition, Kelty have also secured captain Michael Tidser - who scored the winner in the League Two play-off final, second leg triumph at Brechin City - goalkeeper Darren Jamieson, winger Kallum Higginbotham and striker Nathan Austin on two-year deals.

Immediately after guiding the club to promotion, Ferguson, 43, informed them that he would be leaving upon the expiry of his contract at the end of this month.

He has subsequently taken over at League One Alloa Athletic, paving the way for Thomson to take his first managerial role.

"This is the perfect fit for me at the correct stage in my management and coaching career. It’s a club that I know well and I am sure we can achieve success together in the years ahead," he said.

"I can’t wait to get started on the challenge ahead in my 1st managerial job in the SPFL and to get to work with the players and backroom team on the training pitch.

"I am also really looking forward to meeting the Kelty Hearts supporters and people within the community over the coming weeks and months."

Kelty general manager, Dean Mckenzie, added: "I’ve known Kevin for a few years now and we have kept in contact about football in general and about the club over that time.

"You can’t help to be impressed with his drive and ambition and we are thrilled he chose Kelty Hearts FC to begin his managerial career and to have one of the best up and coming coaches at our club.

"We have no doubts Kevin will go onto bigger things in his management career and we hope to help him do that by giving our new manager and his team our full backing."