SPL

David Martindale says new Livingston owner will be a ‘huge positive’ for club

By Sports Desk September 25, 2023

Livingston manager David Martindale believes the club’s new owner will be a “huge positive” – even though he knows very little about him.

The cinch Premiership club announced on Sunday night that Baycup Ltd and sole director John McIlvogue had acquired a majority shareholding.

Earlier this year, McIlvogue led a consortium that saved well-known Glasgow bakery firm Mortons Rolls from the brink of collapse and rescued more than 100 jobs. His other business interests include food and carpet firms.

McIlvogue has negotiated the Livingston deal with chairman John Ward and is set to meet Martindale and the rest of the staff on Tuesday.

The Livi manager said: “I don’t really know anymore than you guys but what I will say is there’s a new owner and it’s got to be a positive for the football club, because where we have been for the past three or four years has not been great.

“I am going to be really honest, it’s been really, really difficult for the staff in the club.

“So to have fresh impetus, a fresh skill-set coming into the building and hopefully upstairs aligned with downstairs and a wee bit of help upstairs for everybody in the club, that’s a huge, huge positive for the club.

“I have not even met these new owners or the new owner, whatever it is. I don’t even know him, but I just know it needed done and hopefully this is the step in the right direction.”

Livingston made pre-tax loss of more than £800,000 for the 2021-22 financial year and projected another loss of about £400,000 for last season.

Martindale said: “There’s been a lot of sleepless nights and sometimes you come into your work, and it’s not just me, it’s probably every member of staff, and you just think ‘I just want to be able to do my own job’.

“I want to be a football manager, I want to be a chief exec, whatever your role is, it’s been really difficult for all the staff because we are all mucking in and trying to keep this club in the Premiership. Sometimes it’s like pushing water up a hill, that’s how it feels.

“I don’t know the owner, but I trust John Ward implicitly and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead because there is going to be a skill-set that helps us face those challenges as a collective unit. Hopefully it’s the start of a fresh beginning for Livingston.”

The share purchase process remains ongoing, but McIlvogue has assumed control from a consortium called OPCCO6, which includes Ward, who is one of two club directors along with chief executive Dave Black.

That vehicle owned 1.3million of close to 2million shares in the club at the last confirmation, but a further 3.8million shares were created in June.

Historic ownership and club finance issues have been the subject of court cases and police investigations.

Martindale said: “It’s public knowledge, there are probably three or four ongoing court cases I have had to take an active part in in terms of sitting in on meetings because I am getting kept up to date with what’s going on.

“These court cases centre around alleged ownership of the football club and alleged loans.

“I hope I don’t need to deal with this on an ongoing basis.

“There’s only three or four of us in the building, there’s only me and Dave here on a daily basis, so generally anything that comes through the door, we have to deal with it.”

Martindale does not expect an immediate uplift in his football budget, but the club hope that McIlvogue can bring in new advertising revenue in his role as chief commercial officer.

“I’m not going to be chapping the door asking for more money in my budget,” he said. “I’ve got the budget, I know what I am working with.

“I think it’s important as a club we look at ways to increase our turnover, which in turn should hopefully lead to an increase in the budget.

“We lost a lot of money last year so I think it was important we got someone who was coming in and was going to underwrite any losses we are going to have this year.

“But that doesn’t mean I’ve not got to be frugal and spend within our means.

“But it’s nice to have that comfort knowing there is someone in the building who has offered to do that, who is in here to help the football club moving forward.”

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