Aug 19 2009 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
AIRDRIE United chairman Jim Ballantyne believes Livingston only have themselves to blame after SFL clubs voted in favour of their demotion to the Third Division.
The decision which confirmed Airdrie United’s relegation reprieve was sealed after a 16-10 vote at Hampden last Thursday and saw the league management committee’s decision to heavily punish the Lions upheld.
The crisis-torn West Lothian outfit, who have been taken over by a consortium headed by Gordon McDougall and Neil Rankine, had appealed the initial decision to demote them but their pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears.
As a result, the Diamonds were given the green light to carry on in Division One with Cowdenbeath now a Second Division club.
Livi, who belatedly and grudgingly began their league campaign in the third division with a 2-0 victory over Montrose on Saturday after deciding not to face East Stirling a week earlier, have now taken their case to the SFA .
However, only an unprecedented decision will see them reinstated to the First Division.
Airdrie supremo Ballantyne says that he hopes the Almondvale club can knuckle down and recover from their summer of turmoil.
However, he believed that “suicidal budgeting” by Livingston had proved their downfall.
The New Broomfield chairman said: “I definitely feel some sadness for Livingston fans but certainly not any guilt.
“Let us not forget that this whole mess has been brought about by the club themselves with ridiculous spending way above their means for a number of years.
“To have sold players for approximately £200,000 in recent months and still be £1.8 million in debt is simply staggering.
“Quite clearly, this situation did not just happen overnight.
“We work extremely hard at Airdrie United trying to balance the books.
“We do get stick from various quarters about not having ‘ambition’ to compete with the likes of Livingston when signing players.
“However, their business model has not worked for years and they have made it through until this year by not paying the taxman £600,000 and not paying the council £350,000.
“This causes an imbalance and they get to keep their First Division status by default whereas those that restrict spending and control costs usually suffer relegation as a result.
“It is for that reason we agree with the demotion of Livingston to Division Three.
“If every club adopted their ‘suicidal’ budgeting there would be clubs out of business every year and the SFL would simply become unsustainable.”
Ballantyne added: “We, probably more than most, value our membership of the SFL taking account of those dark days in 2002.
“It is a pity that the custodians of Livingston over the years have not shared the same level of value.
“As a result, they have done all Livingston supporters a great disservice.
“I genuinely hope that Livingston can be rebuilt by the new consortium and can make a business model work, starting in the Third Division.
“There appears to be plenty of goodwill from the council and the Supporters’ Trust and hopefully this can all be harnessed and Livingston can climb the leagues again.”
THIS week’s Airdrie United lottery numbers are as follows: £800 draw - 3, 13 and 16. £300 draw - 6, 11 and 14.
NO SYMPATHY: Airdrie United chairman Jim Ballantyne reckons the SFL were right to relegate cash-strapped Livingston to the Third Division.