Thursday, August 06, 2009

How to pay off million pound debts? Relegate them to the bottom.

Last week the SFL demanded a bond of £720,000 (the equivalent of 18 away games at the highest grossing club) from the, then prospective, new owners of Livingston FC in order to fulfill their Division 1 football fixture. Neil Rankine, Gordon MacDougall and Ged Nixon had presented a plan to repay the debts that Angelo Massone had greatly ramped up over the last season.

Yesterday the other 29 league clubs consigned that possible way out of the financial blackhole to history as they relegated the team to Division Three football. The odd visit of Dunfermline and Dundee (no matter how much both sets of fans hate each other) or Partick were some of the money spinning fixtures that would have helped clear the debt.

So what is happening with the bond, is that still being requested, surely if it is it can not be expected at the same level? Also while the SFL are saying that this is the best hope for the club to survive what is going to happen with the potential owners? One of the parties at least is the fans of the club but what about the other two. At least they haven't immediately ruled it out MacDougall on leaving Hampden last night said:

"We've got to consider all the options that are open to us. It makes it very, very difficult, but let's see and go back and discuss it with an open mind."

So one man in refusing to move when all hope was lost, when all the fans were crying out for him to sell up and move on before liquidation kicked in. May yet after all have confined my team to death, as well as 'misplacing' the leased company car. Because no matter what happens now with two days before the first round of league games we have players on First Division salaries, compared to the opposition we have a full team on salary. As Ged Nixon says in today's West Lothian Courier:

"The SFL last Thursday gave us a clear indication that we were to prepare to play in the First Division next season. We were asked on Friday to prepare and submit a business plan by noon on Monday which we did based upon competing in the First Division.

"The value of the bond is the equivalent figure of 18 awa games at the highest grossing First Division club and everything has been geared towards First Division football .

"Our plans have all been geared towards First Division revenue and turnover while our playing pool is also of First Division size and standard and if we are relegated our finances might not stack up."

The team have been working around the clock in an attempt to save the club and to meet the requests of the SFL management team. They have also stumped up the bond which instead of being 2 aways game grosses for each of the opposition teams is 18 of the highest. The league was less that 72 hours away when the latest moving of the goalposts came from the SFL clubs.

Maybe as the interim manager of the club Donald McGruther of administrator Mazars said the action yesterday really is a final "death knell" to the Livingston. The worrying precedent was set when Gretna were demoted last summer, and went out of existence soon after. I'm hoping the omens of glum are wrong but after the joy of last week once again the roller coaster of fate is taking Livingston to the depths and we've yet to play our first league fixture of the season.

The fact that a football authority sees the best way for a club to survive within days of the kick off of a new season, pay off debts, fulfill contracts and fixtures is to drop them like this is that really the way to help? Surely the revenue stream needs to be maintained to meet debts run up at the level they were run up at. Only in that way, possibly will backers see any hope of recouping their investment in the long haul.

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