Massone promises to wipe out debt by July
ANGELO Massone has promised to personally clear the full debt owed to West Lothian Council by the end of the month to show supporters he intends to be with Livingston for the long-haul.
The Lions chairman revealed in an exclusive interview to the Courier he is set to pay the outstanding balance of rent arrears for last season and also for the season before that.
And he hopes this will finally show critics of the club he is the right man to lead Livingston back to the SPL.
Massone said: “We want the negativity between everyone to stop. All I want to talk about is the future of Livingston FC.
“I will continue to put money into the club to show supporters a good sign and I will definitely cancel the debt with the council by June 30.
“I will do this to show this will be a long-term project at Livingston and I reiterate the debt will be paid off in full by the end of June.
“It makes sense to clear this with the council and show them and everyone else we want Livingston to be a success in the long term. By June 30 I will pay the rent for last year and for the year before I arrived here in Scotland by putting more of my money into the club.
“We all want to build a good club and I must say I have had unbelievable support from fans when walking around in Livingston and many of them have said they are behind me and my project for the club.”
The outspoken owner also addressed the management position, an issue which has been up in the air since the suspension of Paul Hegarty in April.
“We hope to set an appointment with Paul Hegarty this week to resolve the issue of the managers job and I can’t say too much until all that is sorted out,” revealed Massone.
“But we will know more after this meeting and we’d like to have someone in charge of the team by the end of next week and we have candidates in mind.”
Since the end of the season four players have left Almondvale while top-gun Leigh Griffiths is tipped to follow them but Massone insists Sparky may be back in August to lead the line for the Lions next season.
He continued: “We have lost Gordon Smith but he wasn’t a first-team player, Gary Miller has also left but Murray Davidson and Dave Mackay both wanted to leave so we let them go.
“On the other hand though David Winters and Danny Griffin have resigned with us and we hope that young players like Mark Torrance, Keaghan Jacobs and Chris Malone will improve next season in the first team. But of course we are also ready to sign others players as well.
“Speaking about Leigh Griffiths it depends on whether a big offer comes in for him. If it does we will sell him but if that doesn’t happen then he will stay with us.
“I must say that Griffiths was great on and off the pitch for us last season. He gave 100 per cent and was totally committed and he should be an example to all players next season.
“Our performances on the pitch last season mirrored the way the club was going off it and our form and league placing was very up and down.
“We need stability on the field and it is our target to finish in the top-five places in the league. In a perfect world we will fight to go to the SPL but at least we want to be in the top five.”
Doubtless it has been a turbulent first 12 months in charge for Massone but he seems determined to turn things around this summer and has revealed plans for a series of community initiatives this summer.
The first is a special Ambassador Day which takes place at Almondvale on Saturday. The idea is to get supporters from every town in the county along to help create events, bond with local businesses and be a direct contact for the club.
And the chairman reckons these kind of events are crucial to help set the roots of the club deep within the community.
He added: “Ambassador Day is a very important day for the club and we want the whole of West Lothian involved. Hopefully we can get someone from every town in the whole county along and we think it could be a very good project for the future and build a supporter base in the area.
“We’d like to invite all supporters along on Saturday. We want to use this great stadium to arrange things to help the community and we are also hosting a charity match. It is our hope that we can take donations for charity at every home match next season.”
Meanwhile, West Lothian Council have welcomed Mr Massone's promise to clear the debt, which is reported to be in excess of £280,000, but council leader Peter Johnson has warned that June 30 is an absolute deadline.
He said: “We take the view that June 30 is an absolute deadline regarding the club bringing to us a credible plan to pay the outstanding debts.
“Mr Massone can be under no illusions that it is an absolute deadline and WLC can’t allow the club to continue with this substantial debt beyond this period.
“The end of the month is a line drawn in the sand and we are not prepared to go beyond that.
“We need firm proposals to clear the debt and if an offer to buy the stadium is part of that then we will consider that.
“However the council would require Mr Massone accept restrictions on the use of the stadium as senior football must remain in Livingston.
“There would be stringent conditions attached to any sale of the stadium to prevent anyone looking to move out of football, redevelop and turn over a profit.
“The key from our perspective is that Livingston FC have been making their repayment schedule but if the debt is not cleared then we would be forced to take appropriate action.”