Livingston chairman Gordon McDougall apologises to other Third Division clubs after Lions confirmed as champs
GORDON McDOUGALL has APOLOGISED to the other club’s in the Third Division after Livingston were crowned champs this week.
The Lions chairman (pictured below) admitted to the Courier it was unfair on the part-time clubs in the league to compete against a full-time side packed with players taking home First Division-size wages.
But he insists there was nothing the club could do about contracts inherited from the previous regime or about the fact SFL bosses had dumped them down two divisions at the drop of a hat.
He said: “We enjoyed our day and weekend after winning the league but we actually feel sorry for the clubs in the division who were working on a tighter budget than we were forced to use.
“It wasn’t our choice to have players on First Division wages in the Third Division and it was distinctly unfair that a full-time club was thrust upon the others clubs in the division.
“We accept our demotion is now in the past and there is no point bleating on about it.
“It is a shame that we will never get credit for winning the Third Division.
“It would probably be unfair to get credit for winning it but we do deserve credit for adapting to the circumstances.
“Literally, one minute the players and the directors believed they were playing in the First Division, only to be told they were going to be in the Third.
“You need time to adapt and on the other side of the coin it is unfair and Livingston shouldn’t have been there but in the balance you can only go out there and play the teams that are put in front of you.
“Over the season, it is clear we did reasonably well. The job was to win the Third Division which we managed to do.
“Now we want to set our stall out to do our best in the Second Division and that’s all we can do.
“We are always working on our budget and circumstances change week to week, although we feel we are well set-up for next season.”
McDougall has been in the headlines this week after Gordon Smith (right) stepped down from his role as Chief Executive at the Scottish FA following a row with Livingston.
Smith is alleged to have sparked an alleged cheat inquiry into striker Robbie Winters after an incident in a match against East Stirlingshire in February.
And McDougall has long insisted Smith overstepped the mark with his involvement in the row.
“There is no great satisfaction in seeing a man leave his job but the case papers prove it and the evidence is there,” continued McDougall.
“If it has been the Livingston situation which has caused Smith’s demise, then so be it.
“Jim Farry was crucified for paperwork and that’s the bottom line.
“I think it was the only option available to Smith.
“The panel believed there was a case to answer but the committee didn’t even look at the DVD because of the incompetence which had gone into the file presented to them.”
This week, East Stirlingshire chairman Spencer Fearn has come out as a vocal supporter of Smith and launched a series of stinging blasts at the West Lothian club, prompting an angry response from McDougall.
“Spencer Fearn has come out with a lot of rubbish in the press without knowing the full circumstances,” claimed McDougall.
“I am extremely disappointed with some of the things he has said and he has come out backing Gordon Smith, for whatever that reason may be.
“If Spencer Fearn did send the video of the Winters incident to the SFA – as he is claiming – then it is something we do not have in our file which is again incriminating for Smith.
“It was not presented to us and the whole thing stinks.
“As for Fearn’s suggestions Livingston should be running the game, all I would say is we would certainly have made a better job of presenting the document last week.
“There are many things I’ve read which make it plainly obvious Spencer Fearn has spoken without access to the facts and that’s all you can say.”
Having wrapped up the Third Division championship, McDougall has also revealed that Livi are now looking at a radical overhaul of their acclaimed youth set-up in a bid to unearth even more gems at an earlier age.
He added: “The club and youth set-up are going well and we are actually working hard to bring together a revolutionary youth programme at the club for players as young as six and seven years old.
“We see that as something we need to do to recognise Scotland are so far behind the rest of Europe and to try to do something about that from grassroots level.”