As the season draws to a close, we at Livingston find ourselves delighted just to be in a safe position within this League and be assured of Championship football next season and John McGlynn should be congratulated for achieving this. From the perspective of Livingston FC, the past season has been one of great difficulty, particularly in the running of the club. This is however slowly improving in that huge arrears to the Council, VAT and Revenue are now up to date.
Recent consideration of becoming a Community Interest Company is something which will be discussed by many clubs in Scotland over coming months and years as our game has, for an array of reasons, deteriorated greatly in recent seasons.
We have many enthusiastic people associated with the club who work extremely hard to keep things going but something has to change.
One of the comforts I have is that, despite the perilous financial plight of the club, our problems have not been the result of extravagance by the club on the playing front. We have continually tried to reduce the playing budget but can only go so far if we are to remain a Championship club in a league which has a return of decent proportions.
What I have found difficult to understand over the past five years is the apparent reluctance of fans to turn out in support of the team. Until forced to sell our two exiting young prospects recently, we had a team which would probably have achieved a play off place this season and had a chance of success in the play offs. The club never seems to have recovered from the two administrations of the early 2000’s though truth be told, the entire country is suffering from lack of interest in attending matches. Starting at the top, if we look at Celtic who had to close half their stadium for a very attractive Scottish Cup tie against the second best team in the country at that time, it indicated a drop of 50% from a full stadium for arguably their most important match of the season.
If we focus on Livingston, our base support this season has been a solid 900 home fans. That is nowhere near to the figure required to run a professional team of full time players in the countries second tier of football but the problem is repeated all around the country. Our regular 900, were it to be 1800, would give us cause for hope but all clubs are suffering for whatever reason from a malaise which is keeping people from attending games. We at Livingston thank these loyal fans for sticking with us in difficult times, especially the 350 season tickets holders who paid up despite last season’s ill judged price increase.
Searching for reasons can stir a lengthy debate but I have long believed that our matches are too expensive and that has to be the starting point. The difficulty is in striking a balance whilst still being able to meet the wages.
For what promises to be the most competitive Championship ever next season( I know it only started last year) we have prepared a very attractive package of incentives for Season Tickets of £200 – £100 & £60 with Early Bird reductions of 10% on those prices if purchased during May. With the discount offered, an individual match price of £10 for Rangers, Hearts etc, is great value.
We cannot however escape the bottom line that to make real progress, our support must grow, the truth is that the club needs new fans and many of the lost & disaffected back!
We can do our bit by keeping costs to a minimum but if we are to stick to our side of the bargain and attendances fail to increase, we only end up worse off. We simply must see supporters backing the club which has failed to happen over the past five years despite all the efforts that have been made to provide an entertaining team. Three of the original partners are still working hard to make your club sustainable in conjunction with Supporters Direct Scotland, Livi For Life Trust & Livingston Youth Foundation, we need your backing as football supporters.