Livingston shareholder Ged Nixon
LIVINGSTON chief executive Ged Nixon has hit out at the SFL’s decision to hand stricken Dundee a 25-point penalty – because he feels the Lions were given a much harsher punishment when they were in a similar position last year.
When the Lions fell into administration in summer 2009, league bosses demanded they stump up a whopping £720,000 bond, equating to £40,000 for each of their 18 away fixtures, before then being demoted down two levels to the Third Division.
However, just over a year later, cash-strapped Dundee have gone into administration but have avoided automatic demotion and, despite their severe points deduction, they have not been asked to pay a similar bond that Livingston were asked to.
It is the injustice and inconsistency of SFL bosses which has angered Nixon, who has expressed his genuine concern for the future of Dundee.
He said: “Livingston were asked for a bond of what equated to £40k per away game. The bond was something we could never understand why we had been asked to provide and why it was such a ludicrous amount.
“The irony is that figure was based upon Dundee’s income. As the biggest club in the First Division, the league asked them how much money they made from a home matchday (£40,000), so they then asked us to come up with that figure 18 times.
“That’s how the figure of £720,000 arose and it was to then diminish after every away fixture.
“Now we are in a situation where Dundee have had a heavy points penalty which they regard as punitive and, by their own admission they fear it could toll the death knell for the club.
“They have not been asked for a bond and their administrator Bryan Jackson has gone on record to say he will be there until Christmas time. And we’ve also had the chief executive of the club suggesting that, because of the points penalty imposed on them, they can’t guarantee being able to stay beyond Christmas.
“It is not fair on anyone. If they now say they can’t guarantee to fulfil fixtures beyond then, then why were they allowed to continue at all?
“We think they should have been asked to provide a bond to guarantee they could fulfil their fixtures, which is what was asked of Livi before the season started.
“It was never going to be the same penalty as we got, however harsh they may feel it is, as the board of the SFL, as a result of their decision against Livingston, gave themselves little room for manoeuvre.
“The moral of the story is if you are going to go into administration, then wait for the season to start.
“The parallels are striking between Livingston and Dundee. Both have had previous administrations but regardless of the rights and wrongs of our situation, we saw the season out.
“By doing that, we allowed the SFL to take any sort of action that they saw fit because it was the close season. Here we have a situation where Dundee have started a season knowingly being insolvent, knowing they would be unable to see the season out with the revenue they had, yet carrying on regardless.
“The brave thing they should have done at that time would have been to admit that and go into administration in the close season and deal with it.”
Livingston’s demotion remains a thorny issue for the club, who remain convinced they were dealt an unfair hand by league bosses who have since dealt with Dundee in a different manner.
Nixon continued: “All this situation has done is show us the punishment given to Livingston was wrong.
“It was ridiculously over the top and, for me, the individuals who made that decision have to be held accountable.
“It has always gnawed away at us that the perception was Livingston were relegated from the First Division because they couldn’t fulfil their fixtures.
“That is simply not true. They asked Donald McGruther (administrator) if he could guarantee the fixtures. He said he couldn’t but the man outside the door at the meeting, who was Gordon McDougall, could.
“Gordon had two cheques in his pocket and they knew he was there with the bond but he wasn’t allowed into the room. Their argument was Mr McGruther was, at that point, running the club, so technically they were correct.
“This was all on the back of the fact we were duty bound to honour all existing contracts, some of which had over two years to run, and we continued to do that.
“Dundee haven’t done that and have made players redundant and someone who comes in there will have to pick up the pieces. All those players made redundant will have to have their contracts honoured, despite some of them having since moved on to other clubs.
“The bar has been set and, as daft as we thought the bond was, it can’t change because it is not close season. Dundee should have been asked to provide £40,000 for each of their remaining away fixtures.
“It is always the supporters and the staff who have to pick up the pieces. I know how difficult it is going to be for them as an organisation to get out of this but everybody has to be treated equally and if the SFL haven’t asked for a bond, as they have stated, then we are as asking why not.”
Livingston were not the first and Dundee won’t be the last club in Scottish football to fall into financial difficulties which is why Nixon and club chairman McDougall raised a motion aimed at protecting the future of stricken clubs at the SFL AGM in May.
But they didn’t receive the backing they expected.
“It is an open secret there are a great number of clubs not in dissimilar circumstances and we tabled a motion at the SFL AGM in May for a fixed penalty punishment,” revealed Nixon (left).
“This was something we felt would have taken away some of the hidden mystery of the state of some clubs. They could have then tried to clear the decks and stabilise their positions.
“But because the price of administration is falling into the abyss like we did in the Third Division – and Dundee with a 25-point penalty that condemns them to relegation – we felt it would give clarity to the situation.
“We put that motion forward and didn’t receive even one single vote, which was surprising, to say the least.”
Despite suggestions the points penalty has killed Dundee, Nixon has expressed his hope the club can pull through in their darkest hour.
He added: “It is a horrible situation and there are some good people affected by this at Dundee.
“The game is in dire straits and the last thing we need to do is lose one of our bigger clubs.”