Livingston: Gordon Ford seeks right for club to sign players

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland
Gordon Ford holds a 40% shareholding of Livingston Football Club
Gordon Ford holds a 40% shareholding of Livingston Football Club

Livingston's new largest shareholder Gordon Ford has urged the Scottish Football Association to swiftly lift the club's transfer embargo.

The Scottish Championship club were hit with the registration ban in April after the then majority shareholder Neil Rankine's involvement with East Fife breached dual interest rules.

Rankine now holds no Livingston shares.

"We're expecting the embargo to be lifted, unless there is some other requirement," Ford told BBC Scotland.

"My understanding is that, now that the previous owner has been completely removed from the scene, I'm hoping we've satisfied all the requirements of the tribunal and the compliance officer."

Ford, the former deputy chief executive of West Lothian Council, holds 40% of the shareholding in Livingston.

The rest is held by Neil Hogarth (20%), Graham Leslie (20%) and former Livingston chief executive Ged Nixon (20%).

In November, Livingston were deducted five points and fined £10,000 for breaching rules relating to non-payment of tax but under manager Mark Burchill escaped relegation on the last day of the season.

Livi escaped relegation and won the Petrofac Training cup under Mark Burchill
Livi escaped relegation and won the Petrofac Training cup under Mark Burchill

Ford now wants the transfer embargo lifted so Burchill can strengthen his squad.

"If we go beyond next week then I'll be very, very disappointed," said Ford, who was also previously head-teacher of Broughton High School and Inveralmond Community High School.

"I know the manager has a lot of people lined up that he wants to talk to. We need to get on and build our squad because I think we're in to our first game in about five weeks time and the situation just now is not acceptable.

"We'll sit down next week and we'll hope to talk to Mark and there are a variety of things we need to address, but obviously the priority is the playing squad and that will be top of our agenda."

Ford admits this new era at Livingston is a "major challenge" but one he is excited by.

He hopes the Almondvale side can soon join the growing list of Scottish clubs who have artificial pitches.

"We hope a stadium management company will be in place sometime during the season and a top-quality plastic pitch will be laid next June in time for the 2016-17 season," he said.

"That facility will be open to the community. We reckon the football club require it 24 days in the year. So, after training in the mornings, we reckon we've got a facility for 325 or 330 days a year for the local community.

"We're local people. Neil Hogarth is a lifelong supporter of the club and I've been involved in a variety of things over the last four or five years with the youth foundation and now the stadium management company.

"It's time for a really firm foundation at Livingston Football Club and we want to be known for football on the back pages, not court cases and tribunals."