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Page last updated at 21:33 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 22:33 UK

Livi on brink of administration

Potential investor Neil Rankine and chairman Angelo Massone
Rankine and Massone arrived at Almondvale on Wednesday afternoon

Sheriff officers have served notice on Livingston as the football club moved closer to going into administration because of unpaid rent.

West Lothian Council had given the First Division club until midnight on Tuesday to pay about £280,000 for the use of Almondvale Stadium.

It said that, as the deadline had passed, it had reluctantly begun formal legal proceedings to recover the debt.

Livingston chairman Angelo Massone is seeking a new repayment plan.

It leaves the West Lothian club on the brink of entering administration for the second time in their 14-year history.

Livingston chairman Angelo Massone told BBC Scotland that the club was in danger of going to the wall.

Speaking after he arrived back in Scotland from Italy on Wednesday, he said: "I offered the council a repayment plan and I don't think they have any other option to recoup the money.

"Maybe I can pay, or maybe I can win the case. After 14 days the situation may change. The alternative to Angelo Massone is nothing; no club."

Twenty four hours earlier, he had insisted that he was still having negotiations with the council and that administration could be averted.

We would like to assure supporters that a secure future for senior football at Livingston remains our priority

West Lothian Council

He even issued a statement on the club website naming John Murphy, who had been goalkeeping coach, as the club's new head coach.

But the players returned to Almondvale on Wednesday for pre-season training amid uncertainty about the club's future.

Massone is hoping that the council, which has stressed its desire to retain professional football in the town, will accept a revised repayment plan to enable the club to continue.

He told BBC Scotland that he is proposing an increase in the current monthly payments from £10,000 to £20,000, in lieu of a one-off lump sum payment.

Massone stated that he is still in talks with former Dumbarton owner Neil Rankine, who also arrived at Almondvale on Wednesday afternoon, over his possible investment in the club.

The Inland Revenue are also believed to be watching developments with interest, with the club owing a six-figure sum in unpaid taxes.

Livingston head coach John Murphy
Murphy was promoted to head coach on Tuesday

Livingston were given the 30 June deadline after their local authority landlord became frustrated with late payments and were concerned when Scottish Power switched off the club's electricity supply because of an unpaid bill.

"We have been flexible, patient and reasonable with regards to the club's plight and have given the club's owners ample opportunity to settle the outstanding issues," said a council statement.

"Supporters can be assured that we have made numerous attempts to work with the club's owners at every stage of the process to help avoid this action.

"However, we have a duty to all residents and businesses in West Lothian to ensure debt is repaid.

"We would like to assure supporters that a secure future for senior football at Livingston remains our priority and we hope this action will ensure the good name of Livingston FC remains intact for generations to come."

Massone, who claimed he had deliberately left the bill unpaid to point out that the club relied on his money to survive, appealed earlier this week for potential investors to help save the club.

Rankine, former Cowdenbeath owner Gordon McDougall, and the Livi for Life Trust fans group have each expressed interest in taking over in recent weeks.

Massone claimed to be in talks with Rankine over a financial partnership, while McDougall has made it clear he would only be interested in sole control.

The Trust, which itself has expressed an interest in running the club, has been consistently calling for Massone to leave the club.


Ged Nixon, from Livi for Life, said: "The situation has to come to an end. We fully understand and support the action that West Lothian Council has taken.

"In order to salvage any possible chance of retaining professional football within the West Lothian community, something had to give.

"As a group of supporters, we to have exhausted all avenues to assist and communicate with the owners of the football club to no avail."

Massone took control of Livingston last summer as head of an Italian-based consortium.

He has blamed debt inherited from previous owner Pearse Flynn for the club's financial problems, stressing that he had paid large sums of his own money into the club to keep them afloat.

Livi, a club created in 1995 when Meadowbank Thistle moved from Edinburgh to the new town of Livingston, last went into administration in 2004.

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see also
Livi name coach as deadline looms
30 Jun 09 |  Livingston
Livingston face final curtain
29 Jun 09 |  Livingston
McDougall outlines plan for Livi
26 Jun 09 |  Livingston
Livi lurch closer to bankruptcy
25 Jun 09 |  Livingston
Livingston meet council payment
22 Jun 09 |  Livingston
Hay critical of Livi leadership
20 Jun 09 |  Livingston
Massone explains power cut stance
18 Jun 09 |  Livingston
Massone not looking to sell Livi
05 Jun 09 |  Livingston

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