CALUM ELLIOT today apologised to Livingston for signing a pre-contract agreement at Almondvale and then joining First Division rivals Raith Rovers.
The former Hearts striker cited both football and non-football reasons for his change of mind, although he refused to elaborate with precise details.
Raith have welcomed Elliot into their squad for next season with a reluctant blessing from Livingston, who will not pursue the matter legally. The player signed a contract and registration form with the West Lothian club in April before Raith announced last week that he had agreed a 12-month deal at Stark’s Park.
Elliot offered an apology for the confusion and stressed he has no wish to portray Livingston in a bad light. He said the decision was not money-related because he would have earned a bigger salary had he remained with them. “I appreciated their interest and there are a lot of good people at the club. For that reason, I’d like to apologise,” he told the Evening News. “I’ve been wanting to speak about this but it’s been difficult. I had to respect Raith’s wishes.
“Looking at it from afar, I know it doesn’t look good on myself. I did it for footballing reasons, and a few non-footballing reasons, although I won’t go into the ins and outs of everything. It was nothing to do with money. If anything, I’m probably getting less money at Raith than I would have got at Livingston. Everybody I’ve spoken to in football understands why I’ve done this and agrees so I’ve got no problems with the decision.”
Elliot scored 11 goals in 14 games for Livingston whilst on loan from Hearts during season 2008/09. After successful spells with Lithuanian side Zalgiris Vilnius and Alloa Athletic since leaving Tynecastle 18 months ago, he was initially overjoyed at the thought of returning to Almondvale. “I was delighted to sign for Livingston because playing for them previously was one of the few times when I enjoyed my football. I was more than happy to go back and I was really looking forward to it, but it would have been impossible for me to go back there and give it my all. I can’t really go into the reasons why.”
A statement on Livingston’s website stated they were disappointed with Elliot’s conduct but wished to move on. The player continued: “I’ve tried to keep my dignity despite what Livingston have said. I don’t want to say anything bad about Livingston because they were good with me when I played there. I don’t want to paint a bad picture of them. I’d rather it looked like I was the bad person rather than certain people at Livingston. I couldn’t quite understand the statements they put on their website because I’d already spoken to them, but that’s part and parcel of football.”
Raith will visit Almondvale on league business next season and Elliot expects to be the main target for abuse. “If anything, this gives me more incentive to go back there. Possibly I’ll get a hostile reception, but it’s something I’ll look forward to more than anything. It’s not like I’ll dread going back. It was a club I enjoyed playing for and it’s disappointing how things have worked out.
“At the same time, I’m looking forward to getting started at Raith next season. I’m looking forward to helping Raith and having a good season there. I’m looking forward to doing a full pre-season. Raith have a good nucleus within their squad, they’ve made some good signings and there might be a few more coming in. If we start the season well, we’ve got a chance of having a good year.”
Ged Nixon, Livingston’s chief executive, insisted his club harbour no ill-feeling towards Elliot. “I’m pleased the lad has finally come out and admitted what he signed and what he didn’t sign,” he said. “We wish him well, we certainly don’t wish him any ill will. Livingston would have been far happier had he handled the situation better and been a bit more up front about it in the first instance. That said, it’s water under the bridge and we move on to try and find an alternative player who is fully committed to Livingston.
“We were clear on our position from the start and we’re disappointed with the way it’s panned out. As time went on, it was clear the lad’s mind was made up to go to Raith Rovers. Despite the fact we felt we were in a good position contractually, we didn’t feel it was worth pursuing.
“At the end of the day, had we won the argument through the football authorities, we’d have been left with an unhappy player. That doesn’t benefit anyone. It was far better to take our stance, acknowledge the boy wasn’t committed to Livingston and give him the opportunity to play football elsewhere.”