Mark Burchill will sign as Livingston boss

Mark Burchill guided Livingston to victory in the Petrofac Training Cup, beating Alloa in the final
Mark Burchill guided Livingston to victory in the Petrofac Training Cup, beating Alloa in the final
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Mark Burchill says he expects to sign a new two-year contract to become Livingston’s manager within the next 48 hours.

The former Celtic striker, who guided Livi to Championship survival last month, is out of contract and is yet to sign a deal which he verbally agreed with the club’s directors almost four weeks ago. However, he was quick to reassure Lions supporters that he will be the man to lead the club next season by committing his future to Livi now that he has returned from holiday.

“I haven’t signed the contract as it’s with my agent at the minute so there are just a couple of wee details to sort out,” he said. “But there are definitely no problems and I expect it to be signed within the next 48 hours. I just never had the chance to do it before I went on holiday.”

Burchill certainly has his work cut out as he prepares to assemble a squad that, at the moment, has just three first-team players registered – goalkeeper Darren Jamieson, midfielder Scott Pittman and striker Jordan White who remain tied to the club for another year.

And with the club’s transfer embargo still to be resolved despite majority shareholder Neil Rankine confirming last week he had carried out the necessary paperwork that will relinquish his 50 per cent shareholding in the club, Burchill remains strictly forbidden from registering or re-registering players until the SFA Judicial Panel have given him to go-ahead to do so.

“The embargo is still in place but the club are working very hard to try and sort the situation out,” he said. “Obviously it’s above my head so I’m just waiting for the yay or nay to find out exactly when we can start registering players. I’m led to believe that something is going to happen very soon but I don’t know when.

“I was away for 10 or 11 days but I was constantly on the phone. It’s football management, it’s not easy and I’ve just got to try and reassemble a team for next year.

“You just never know what’s round the corner in football. I want to get a squad of 18-20 players so I need to find at least 15 players from somewhere. We had a difficult time last year and for this to still be carrying on is extremely frustrating.

“I’m a young manager and want to get my team assembled and get them ready for the first day of pre-season on June 22. It’s getting so close now though that it is going to be pretty much impossible.”

Despite the punishments imposed on the club as a result of Rankine being found guilty in April of having a dual interest in Livingston and League Two side, East Fife, Burchill says he has been working away behind the scenes ever since the club preserved its Championship statuswith a 1-0 win over Queen of the South last month.

Nevertheless, he couldn’t conceal his frustrations at being left with little to do on the player recruitment front.

“I’ve already lost out on players, I’m not going to lie,” he revealed. “I’ve spoken to players who have then gone and signed somewhere else but that’s the way it goes. It’s the position that we are in.

“We want to sell season tickets as well. We had a good ending to last season, we had over 2500 at the last game [against Queen of the South] and we want more of that. The fans need to see who they are going to come along and support so I’m as desperate to get this ban lifted.

“I’ve got various positions where I have my target one, target two, target three and so on, but the longer it goes, targets one, two and three are gone.

“But I can’t wait for the season to start, get players in playing my way and I’m a firm believer that with any agent, your player may have a contract on the table but let them meet me for ten minutes and I’m confident they’ll sign for Livingston Football Club.”

Despite last season’s turmoil triggered when the club incurred a five-point deduction for tax irregularities, not to mention a £10,000 fine as well as being dragged through the courts by former chief executive Ged Nixon in his attempt to sue the club for £311,000, a case he subsequently lost, Burchill feels he is readily equipped for what promises to be another challenging year in Scottish football’s second tier.

“I learnt a lot more than I expected let’s put it that way. I didn’t think it was going to be... what’s the word... so choppy in the waters.

“There were so many things that were thrown our way and things that happened in the background that not many people knew about so it wasn’t ideal for anyone. I’ve read what other managers have been through in management and I think I’ve had them in my first six months,” he added.

• Mark Burchill was speaking as Petrofac Training Services launched a Golden Ticket promotion to win first-round draw tickets, the first time any cup in Scotland has provided such an opportunity, with entry via www.twitter.com/Petrofac_Cup.