Livingston future unclear after latest fine

Gordon McDougall

Gordon McDougall

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Livingston have received a £5000 fine and another player registration ban from the SFA over majority shareholder Neil Rankine’s dual interest in East Fife.

The ban extends to the registering and re-registration of players and means the club will face a headache over the closed season in rebuilding a team regardless if they beat the drop from the Championship or plummet to League One.

It is a fresh problem for manager Mark Burchill but he insisted it was his job to retain the players’ focus ahead of Sunday’s Petrofac Training Cup final with Alloa.

However, club chairman Gordon McDougall said: “We understand the sentence and it will be discussed within the club in due course.

“We’ll need to approach Neil Rankine for his views.”

It is understood Rankine is currently on holiday and he is not expected back until next week.

The Championship’s bottom club were found guilty of breaching four SFA disciplinary rules in January regarding the 62-year-old’s ties with the League 2 side, although all charges against holding a third interest in league rivals Dumbarton were dropped.

Rankine, shareholder of Livingston 5 Ltd, was deemed to “hold the power to influence the management or administration of East Fife” through a relationship with the Fife club’s majority shareholders, Lorraine and Samantha Twigg.

Livi could incur further sanctions if Rankine, who took Livi out of administration in 2009, fails to dispose of his interests in one of the clubs.

Should an agreement fail to materialise, it would then become a matter for the SFA Compliance Offer to consider imposing a heavier punishment.

Livingston were deducted five points, fined £10,000 and hit by a transfer embargo in November for defaulting on tax obligations. The ban was rescinded on January 1.