{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"livingston","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":13,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/livingston-to-shut-down-youth-academy-1-4782401","id":"1.4782401","articleHeadline": "Livingston to shut down youth academy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533976532642 ,"articleLead": "Livingston are to close their successful youth academy after informing parents by text that all teams would be disbanded.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782400.1533977026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Livingston's Almondvale base will no longer run youth teams"} ,"articleBody": "

The West Lothian club's youth sides are due to play their first Club Academy Scotland games later this month, but an announcement on Friday night told parents that the entire system would be shut down with immediate effect.

That will see more than 50 teenage players released and seeking clubs on the eve of their new season - leaving some of them in tears.

Reasons were not given but it is understood finances are one of many factors behind the decision as Livingston try to compete in the Premiership. They play their first home match in Scotland's top flight against Kilmarnock today after securing promotion from the Championship in May.

An official announcement is expected in the coming days, but parents and boys were told in a text message that several age-group sides at Almondvale are now being broken up. Under-15s, under-16s and under-18s will all be scrapped after under-13s and under-14s were stopped a few months ago. A reserve team will continue to operate below the first team for players on professional contracts.

The Scottish Football Association provides funding for clubs to run youth operations but the introduction of Project Brave saw Livingston lacking some criteria to be included in the higher performance tier this season.

Livingston's academy has been in operation for around two decades and was once one of the most prestigious in the country. It produced Scotland internationalists like Robert Snodgrass, Graham Dorrans, Leigh Griffiths and Murray Davidson.

Marc McNulty, Andy Halliday, Stefan Scougall, James McPake and the Jacobs brothers - Keaghan, Kyle, Devon and Sheldon - also came through the Livingston system to play at first-team level.

The decision to close it follows similar moves by clubs like Falkirk and Clyde in recent seasons.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782400.1533977026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782400.1533977026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Livingston's Almondvale base will no longer run youth teams","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Livingston's Almondvale base will no longer run youth teams","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782400.1533977026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/finding-the-right-recipe-at-tony-macaroni-is-the-key-for-livingston-1-4782318","id":"1.4782318","articleHeadline": "Finding the right recipe at Tony Macaroni is the key for Livingston","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533965400000 ,"articleLead": "

Livingston player-manager Kenny Miller believes their home form will be the key to their survival hopes as the Tony Macaroni Arena prepares to host its first top-flight game in 12 years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782317.1533926241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Livingston player manager Kenny Miller"} ,"articleBody": "

Livi were handed the toughest of assignments on their Ladbrokes Premiership return when they were paired with champions Celtic in Glasgow on the opening day.

Miller was pleased with how his players stuck to their task in a 3-1 defeat but today’s visit of Kilmarnock offers a far more realistic prospect of getting off the mark in terms of points.

Livingston’s double promotion was built on the back of impressive home form but they have now installed a new artificial pitch.

And, after playing their home Betfred Cup group games at Linlithgow Rose’s ground, today gives the club a chance to promote the return of top-flight football to West Lothian.

Miller said: “Our season is not going to be defined by whether we can win at Parkhead or not, it will be these games at home, any game at home really, but particularly against teams that are going to be around us,” he said.

“It will be a tough game, for three-quarters of a season Kilmarnock were absolutely outstanding under Steve Clarke.

“We’ve had a good week’s work on the pitch, the lads have been really looking forward to getting on it. It’s the surface we are going to be playing on so we are going to become more familiar with it.

“Everybody is looking forward to it. Hopefully the fans turn out and support us and we give them a performance they deserve.”

Miller, who is looking to get at least one more new signing, was delighted with his players’ work ethic at Celtic Park and he believes a similar approach off the park can help the club continue to grow.

“The club is always looking to connect with the community and it was something that was maybe missing for a few years,” the former Rangers striker said.

“The club are trying to get as many fans through the gate as possible. There is a real family feel here, everyone mucks in together. The staff and people about the building are excellent people who are working so hard for the club.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782317.1533926241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782317.1533926241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Livingston player manager Kenny Miller","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Livingston player manager Kenny Miller","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782317.1533926241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/ricki-lamie-loves-playing-for-his-hero-kenny-miller-1-4778412","id":"1.4778412","articleHeadline": "Ricki Lamie loves playing for his hero Kenny Miller","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533360600000 ,"articleLead": "

Livingston new boy Ricki Lamie is pinching himself as he prepares to line up alongside boyhood hero Kenny Miller.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4778411.1533305769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ricki Lamie"} ,"articleBody": "

The defender, who grew up a Rangers fan, has been on the receiving end of some light-hearted stick from friends and family over an interview he gave last year in which he described the Lions’ new player-boss as his footballing idol.

But the 25-year-old summer signing is not ashamed to admit working with the former Ibrox ace is already making him a better player just a few weeks after joining Livi from Morton.

Now as he gears up for his first season in the Ladbrokes Premiership, he believes Miller’s guidance can help him make the grade in Scotland’s top division.

“That interview has been mentioned by my brother and a mate already funnily enough. It’s not surfaced in the dressing room thankfully but I’m sure someone will get hold of it.

“But to be fair, I watched the gaffer when I was younger and now getting to play alongside him every day is another feather in my cap and shows how far I’ve come.

“I find myself pinching myself that I’m playing with someone of his experience and calibre.

“Even just training alongside him every day is helping to prepare me for what I’ll be up against each week in the Premiership, especially as a defender. It’s magic.

“He has so much nous and experience and learning how he operates can only sharpen me up to take on some of the other top strikers I’ll come up against.

“His coaching is also top notch too so we’re getting the best of both worlds in terms of his playing ability and his work on the training ground.”

Newly-promoted Livi are giving Lamie his big break in the Premiership but the defender is confident stage fright will not affect his side when they take on Brendan Rodgers’ seven-in-a-row champions in today’s big kick-off at Celtic Park.

He said: “I started my career out with Airdrie in League Two and have worked my way up. I won League One with Morton and then spent the last couple of years in the Championship but all through my time in the lower leagues I’ve had that self-belief that I can go test myself in the top flight and do well.

“Now I’ve got that chance and I’m still absolutely confident that me and the rest of the boys in the team can do just that.

“If we can put our minds to it, I’m sure we’ll show we’re up for the challenge.

“Obviously Parkhead isn’t the easiest place to kick-off the campaign but the confidence is bubbling away and we will go into the game full of positivity.

“We’re taking a step into the unknown in terms of the challenges we’ll face in the Premiership. We would be naive to go into the league season putting any major expectations but I think that’s a good thing as we’re playing without pressure.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4778411.1533305769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4778411.1533305769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ricki Lamie","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ricki Lamie","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4778411.1533305769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/kenny-miller-set-to-be-named-livingston-player-manager-1-4762063","id":"1.4762063","articleHeadline": "Kenny Miller set to be named Livingston player-manager","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1530294252000 ,"articleLead": "

Kenny Miller is set to be named as the new player-manager of Livingston.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4762062.1530294249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kenny Miller will be unveiled as Livingston's new player-manager. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The former Rangers striker has been locked in talks with the West Lothian outfit for the past two weeks.

The 38-year-old had been a reported target for Aberdeen, St Mirren and former club Hibs, but is understood to have agreed a deal to succeed David Hopkin as well as prolonging his playing career.

Hopkin left the club after securing promotion to the Scottish Premiership via the play-offs, after seeing off Dundee United and Partick Thistle.

Livingston are expected to unveil Miller on Saturday, but an announcement is expected to be made later tonight.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4762062.1530294249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4762062.1530294249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kenny Miller will be unveiled as Livingston's new player-manager. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kenny Miller will be unveiled as Livingston's new player-manager. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4762062.1530294249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/livingston-sign-hibee-callum-crane-cammy-bell-joins-partick-1-4752865","id":"1.4752865","articleHeadline": "Livingston sign Hibee Callum Crane; Cammy Bell joins Partick","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1528741325000 ,"articleLead": "

Livingston have signed Hibs defender Callum Crane on an undisclosed two-year deal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4752864.1528749421!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Crane"} ,"articleBody": "

Interim Lions manager David Martindale told the club’s website: “I’m excited by the signing of Callum as I believe he can play in a variety of positions, predominantly on the left-hand side. Callum is a more natural left-back but can play up one at left midfield, and I think he can be adapted to play at left centre midfield through time.”

Crane progressed from the Hibernian Academy and had two loan spells at Berwick Rangers and Alloa Athletic.

Atkinson continued: “I have had various scout reports on Callum and watched him myself since the start of last season. Everything was very positive and I felt we had to try get him on board if we possibly could. I would like to thank Hibernian for their help in the transfer of Callum to Livingston.

“It’s an exciting younger signing for the club with Callum just recently turning 22. He played a huge part in Alloa’s promotion to the Championship last season.

“We need an array of talent and ages within our first-team squad. I’m hoping Callum can come in this season and stake a claim for a jersey, but getting him on a two-year deal will allow him time to bed-in and develop for the longer term benefit of both himself and the Club. Similar to Jack McMillan and Dylan Mackin last season.

“The squad is shaping up very well and I’m extremely happy how our recruitment has gone to date. I can assure everyone that we are working very hard behind the scenes and will keep you all updated as and when anything comes to fruition.”

And, in a separate deal, goalkeeper Cammy Bell has left Hibs to join Championship team Partick Thistle, also on a two-year deal. Bell signed for Hibs in January and played twice. His contract was due to expire at the end of this month.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4752864.1528749421!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4752864.1528749421!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Callum Crane","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Crane","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4752864.1528749421!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/ex-celtic-star-john-hartson-a-contender-to-become-livingston-boss-1-4748227","id":"1.4748227","articleHeadline": "Ex-Celtic star John Hartson a contender to become Livingston boss","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527845067000 ,"articleLead": "

John Hartson is an early front-runner to become the next manager of Livingston, according to the Daily Record.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748225.1527848414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ex-Celtic striker John Hartson. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - In pictures: Top 20 Scottish Premiership players still out of contract

The former Celtic hitman has been working with the West Lothian club for the past 10 months as a specialist striker’s coach and could ascend up to the role of manager following David Hopkin’s exit.

The beloved Lions manager officially left the club yesterday after failing to agree terms on a new contract following promotion to the top flight.

Hartson also has a role as a regular pundit for BT Sport, though he is said to be willing to put his media career on hold to lead the Almondvale club.

Another early contender is former Hibs and Rangers star Kevin Thomson. The 33-year-old is currently a youth coach back at Ibrox.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID GUNN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748225.1527848414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748225.1527848414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ex-Celtic striker John Hartson. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ex-Celtic striker John Hartson. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748225.1527848414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5788601467001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/david-hopkin-leaves-livingston-after-rejecting-new-contract-offer-1-4747662","id":"1.4747662","articleHeadline": "David Hopkin leaves Livingston after rejecting new contract offer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527761675000 ,"articleLead": "

David Hopkin is to leave Livingston only 11 days after guiding the West Lothian club back to the Premiership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4747661.1527761672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Hopkin guided Livingston to Premiership promotion via the play-offs this season. Pic: Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

Speculation had been rife about the former Scotland midfielder’s future after Livingston’s play-off victory over Partick Thistle which relegated the Glasgow outfit to the Championship, his name linked with a number of clubs including Carlisle, Bradford and St Mirren.

Livingston had hoped to persuade him to stay, but today the club revealed that following discussions with Hopkin, they’d accepted he wouldn’t be renewing his contract as manager.

Hopkin’s assistant David Martindale will take charge of football affairs at the Tony Macaroni Arena in the meantime, with Livingston disclosing they’ve been considering other candidates in anticipation of his departure.

A statement on the club’s website said: “David is aware of the speculation around other positions, and although he has been open and transparent and not accepted any other role at this time, he feels that the longer this continues the more it will undermine the success that he and the coaching staff have achieved.

“His decision is not the consequence of an unacceptable offer or budget, but is based purely on personal circumstances. Which we fully respect and acknowledge.

“The club has been assessing other candidates in the knowledge that David would potentially move on, and will take time to consider these options.

“We would like to put on record our deep gratitude for David’s efforts in guiding us back to the Premiership, and wish him well whatever the outcome of his future talks.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4747661.1527761672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4747661.1527761672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Hopkin guided Livingston to Premiership promotion via the play-offs this season. Pic: Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Hopkin guided Livingston to Premiership promotion via the play-offs this season. Pic: Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4747661.1527761672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/david-hopkin-reflecting-on-livingston-future-1-4746240","id":"1.4746240","articleHeadline": "David Hopkin ‘reflecting on Livingston future’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527582011000 ,"articleLead": "

Livingston manager David Hopkin will take time on holiday to reflect on his future amid interest from other clubs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4746238.1527583068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In demand: Livingston boss David Hopkin. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The club confirmed they had made an offer to the 47-year-old, as well as a budget, in the hopes of keeping the former Scotland international at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Hopkin, who led Livi back to the Scottish Premiership by defeating Partick Thistle in the play-offs, has been linked with succeeding Jack Ross at St Mirren, while Shrewsbury Town have also been credited with an interest.

• READ MORE - The 8 most outstanding managers in Scottish football this term

The ex-Chelsea and Crystal Palace midfielder has been attracting attention since leading the Lions to successive promotions, and the West Lothian club were quick to sit down with their manager at the end of the season.

A statement on Livingston’s official website said: “The club has held talks with David with a view to retaining him as manager and building on the remarkable success we have enjoyed during his time here.

“A budget and offer have been put to him today. We are very hopeful that David will see his future at Livingston.

“David has been open and honest with the Board and verified that he has had other interest. He heads off on holiday on Wednesday and will use that time to reflect and come to a decision on his future.

“The transfer window is closed until June 10th so the board is comfortable in giving David this time. We are hopeful that the offer will encourage him to remain with the club and take us forward in the Premiership.

“The club will continue to push on with pre-season schedule and our player recruitment with the help of the coaching staff at the club.”

• READ MORE - David Hopkin set for talks as Livingston clinch top-flight spot

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4746238.1527583068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4746238.1527583068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "In demand: Livingston boss David Hopkin. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In demand: Livingston boss David Hopkin. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4746238.1527583068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5788601467001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/murdo-livingston-should-retain-smell-of-team-spirit-1-4744558","id":"1.4744558","articleHeadline": "Murdo: Livingston should retain smell of team spirit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527226220000 ,"articleLead": "

Murdo MacLeod has urged Livingston not to change the style of play which has won back-to-back promotions, taking the West Lothian club from League One to the Premiership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4744421.1527177374!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murdo MacLeod at The SPFL Trust's Annual Golf Day at The Carrick. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Although bitterly disappointed to see Partick Thistle – whom he managed in the mid-1990s – relegated, the ex-Hibs skipper admitted David Hopkin’s side were well worth their play-off victory over the Firhill outfit. And now, with Livingston unable to spend the sort of money they had last time they were in the top flight, he believes they’ll have to rely on their fighting spirit .

“I thought Livingston were outstanding,” said the former Scotland midfielder. “For a team that had just come out of League One to then come out of the Championship and go into the Premiership, it’s a great achievement.

“They bullied Thistle. They went into every challenge with conviction. Their work-rate, too, was brilliant. People have always spoken about them being in the faces of the opposition. But you’ve got to work to do that. You’ve got to be fit, you’ve got to have that energy to go and close the opposition down.

“That’s what they managed to do over the two games and that was so important for them. Over the last few years it’s always been one of the sides running out of steam before the last game, but Livi were up there for all of it.”

MacLeod believes Livingston were probably the last team Thistle – “a nice footballing side” but unable to score or defend – would have wanted to face as they fought for their Premiership lives, saying: “Livingston’s reputation was of fighting spirit, the size of them, the way they play football.

“That was always going to be a big problem for Thistle. Livingston were fantastic in the first game. In the second one at Firhill you could see their game plan. From the first touch their goalie was diving down to waste a few more seconds. Every time he did that he brought the game a bit shorter.”

Now, insisted MacLeod, simply trying to stay in the Premiership will present a major battle for Livingston. “They don’t have that money this time. Their achievement was just getting there.

“Everything between now and the end of next season is a bonus for them. I know one or two players signed up thinking it was just about staying in the Championship – now everything has changed for them.

“They’ve just got to go back to what they’re good at, battering teams, working them hard. That’s all they can do. They can’t afford to go out and get classy players. Just get players who will fit into their squad.

“I was listening to player interviews after the win over Thistle. All of them spoke about how someone could be straight out of the door if they walked into their dressing-room and thought they were better than the rest.

“That’s the atmosphere at Livi. It’s a clear message about their team spirit. This is a challenge for what I’d term a team-spirit team.

“Obviously it could be a very tough season where they get detached and heads go down. The first ten games they’ll be flying about and going into everything. They’ll be wanting the whole world to know they deserve to be up there, which they do.”

n Murdo MacLeod was speaking at the SPFL Trust’s Annual Golf Day at The Carrick. All proceeds raised will be used towards mental health first aid training in Scottish football in partnership with the Chris Mitchell Foundation. For more information visit www.spfltrust.org.uk.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4744421.1527177374!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4744421.1527177374!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Murdo MacLeod at The SPFL Trust's Annual Golf Day at The Carrick. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murdo MacLeod at The SPFL Trust's Annual Golf Day at The Carrick. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4744421.1527177374!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/manager-david-hopkin-to-discuss-livingston-future-with-board-1-4742242","id":"1.4742242","articleHeadline": "Manager David Hopkin to discuss Livingston future with board","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526880657000 ,"articleLead": "

David Hopkin will discuss his future with Livingston’s board this week after taking them into the Premiership – a success he described as the biggest of his career.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4742241.1526838488!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Hopkin"} ,"articleBody": "

Keaghan Jacobs’ goal won yesterday’s play-off final second leg against Partick Thistle 1-0 to take the West Lothian club into the top flight on a 3-1 aggregate.

Hopkin, who scored a winning goal for Crystal Palace in the English play-off during his career, said nothing tops taking Livingston up after winning League One only 12 months ago.

“Of course this eclipses everything. As a player, you can do something to make a game better. I sat and watched the second half because I know I can trust my players,” he said.

“It’s eclipsed everything I did. I’ve only been in charge for two years now and I’ve had two promotions. I think this is better than winning the league because we’ve done it the hard way.

“It was the most satisfying performance of the season. I asked Neil Alexander before the game to make sure he was a hero in the game, and he was. He saved a fantastic penalty [from Conor Sammon].

Hopkin is out of contract but will now hold critical talks on a new deal. “My future always gets tied up in the summer,” said the former Scotland midfielder. “There might be speculation and people are trying to get me to say stuff, but there’s nothing on the table.

“I’ve spoken to the board and we’ll chat again, probably on Tuesday now. I’ve always been open with the board. I’ve said always if anything comes along they’ve always been very good with me and both parties are honest enough.

“We’ll see where the talks take us. Interest is going to come when you get promoted, at least you’re doing your job right and are not being pushed out the door.

“My aim was to get back to the Championship [from League One]. We could’ve gone part-time and it would’ve been easy to walk out but I had great belief in the players. I knew we could kick on.

“Now we’ve taken the Championship and got to the Premiership in the hardest way. I never thought we’d be here but we all worked extremely hard for it.”

Alan Archibald, the Partick Thistle manager, admitted his club face budget cuts in the wake of relegation. “I’m absolutely gutted for everybody involved. It’s really hard to take. I was involved with relegation as a kid when I was only 18 and it wasn’t nice. To relive it as the manager, I’m so disappointed,” he said.

“We haven’t had a good season. The play-offs give you a second chance but if you can’t score at home, you don’t deserve to be in the Premiership. Full congratulations to Livingston.”

There are now questions over Archibald’s future at Firhill. “I haven’t even processed that. It’s still very raw,” he explained. “The most important thing is the football club moving forward. There will be changes and cuts all over. It’s important we have the best chance to come back up. There will be a massive turnover of players.

“I feel really responsible. I’ve been with the club for 20 years and I know how hard it is for the fans. We are all hurting. When I took the job it was a gamble because I worried about ruining my relationship with them because of something like this.”

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With one of the smallest full-time budgets in Scotland, Livingston achieved Premiership promotion by winning their play-off final and relegating Partick Thistle. Keaghan Jacobs, a product of Livingston’s youth academy, scored the winner at Firhill to take his club into the top flight on a 3-1 aggregate scoreline.

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Scenes at full-time were of great contrast as those from West Lothian danced with joy, while the red and yellow shirts around them were disconsolate. David Hopkin’s team have now completed successive promotions after stepping up to the Championship from League One just 12 months ago.

They held a 2-1 lead over Thistle from Thursday night’s first leg at Almondvale – Jacobs was on target then, too – and stretched that advantage thanks to the midfielder’s neat finish shortly after the break. A late penalty by Hearts loanee Conor Sammon was saved by the visiting keeper Neil Alexander as if to compound the hosts’ misery.

Livingston aimed only to avoid relegation last summer but celebrated wildly at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill just before 5.30pm after finding themselves in the Premiership. Hopkins’s stewardship has been one long upward trajectory since their relegation to League One in summer 2016. Alan Archibald, his Partick Thistle counterpart, now faces questions over his tenure. The Glasgow side were promoted to the top league in 2013 and now return to the second tier after a five-year stay.

Although the atmosphere at Firhill was fervid, much of it stemmed from nerves and tension. Thistle battled for their Premiership existence against a Livingston side which last played top-flight football in 2006. This was their chance to make history.

They overwhelmed their Glasgow opponents in West Lothian thanks to another of their trademark energetic and industrious displays. Goals from Jacobs and Scott Pittman gave them a precious lead to take to Maryhill, albeit a slender one. Thistle were strengthened this time by the return of Chris Erskine and Blair Spittal to midfield.

The opening stages were predictably frantic and competitive. Almost every challenge forced referee John Beaton into a decision one way or the other. Livingston were in no rush whenever play stopped and that irked the home support as play didn’t flow the way they wanted it to. Partick’s aim was to play their way through the opposition, principally by using the craft of No.10 Erskine.

Clear scoring chances were at a premium throughout the first half. Livi’s Craig Halkett glanced Jacobs’ free-kick over Tomas Cerny’s crossbar on 35 minutes. Five minutes later, Jordan Thompson had a shot blocked by Kris Doolan following Alan Lithgow’s long throw. Adam Barton then got his boot in the way of Shaun Byrne’s attempt after the home side got themselves in a defensive fankle.

Thistle finally produced a shot on target in first-half stoppage-time. Spittal took Andrew McCarthy’s pass and ran at the visiting defence. Rather than slip a pass to the unmarked Erskine on his left, he chose to shoot with his left foot from 20 yards. Alexander was equal to the task.

Seconds after the restart, the Championship side struck a potentially fatal blow. Byrne laid the ball off to Jacobs at the edge of the Thistle penalty area and the onrushing midfielder dispatched a precise angled finish low into Cerny’s right corner. As players in black ran around like crazy animals in fits of delirium, it was impossible not to empathise with their delight.

Archibald’s team now needed two goals simply to take this play-off into extra-time. A 3-1 aggregate scoreline was daunting for a group of players low on confidence. Hopkin replaced lone striker Lee Miller with right-back Jack McMillan hoping to consolidate, but that left his team without a natural forward. Their supporters didn’t seem to mind as they reached full voice. Perhaps their most inventive chant of the afternoon was aimed at Thistle substitute Ryan Edwards. “You’re just a ***** Jack Sparrow,” came the chorus as the long-haired midfielder replaced Martin Woods.

Steven Lawless, Spittal and Christie Elliott all had shots at goal during Partick’s expected onslaught. They won a penalty when Alan Lithgow handled substitute Sammon’s shot, but the on-loan Hearts forward saw his spot-kick saved by the imperious Alexander.

At full-time, there was no denying Livingston had earned their place at the top table of Scottish football. Their players bounced around in euphoria in front of the healthy band of travelling fans as they hailed one of the biggest successes of their careers.

Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Cerny; McGinn, Barton, Cargill, Elliott; Woods (Edwards 70), McCarthy (Sammon 55); Spittal, Erskine (Booth 75), Lawless; Doolan. Unused subs: Scully, Devine, Penrice, Storey.

Livingston (4-1-4-1): Alexander; Gallagher, Halckett, Lithgow, Longridge; Jacobs; Robinson (Buchanan 79), Byrne, Pittman, Thompson (Cadden 60); Miller (McMillan 68). Unused subs: Maley, Mullin, Frizzell.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 7,122.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4742230.1526838448!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4742230.1526838448!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Livingston celebrate Keaghan Jacobs' (No.14) winner. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Livingston celebrate Keaghan Jacobs' (No.14) winner. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4742230.1526838448!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/david-hopkin-livingston-players-face-biggest-day-of-their-careers-1-4741415","id":"1.4741415","articleHeadline": "David Hopkin: Livingston players face biggest day of their careers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526707856000 ,"articleLead": "

David Hopkin wants his Livingston players ready for the biggest 90 minutes of their careers tomorrow.

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They carry a 2-1 lead over Partick Thistle entering the Premiership play-off second leg at Firhill, but manager Hopkin won’t try to hold the advantage.

“No, I never do,” he said. “This has got us to where we are now, so why would I change it in the last game? I’m sure the players will give me everything on Sunday but I think we’re going to face a completely different Partick Thistle team.

“I’ll just go and do the same again. I know it’s going to be a tough ask on a bigger pitch.

“We can’t let teams go and play. We haven’t done it all season. We’re now in the last game. If we go there and it’s not enough on the day, then I’ll congratulate Alan [Archibald] and Thistle for staying up.

“If we can do it and keep our energy levels up, it will probably be the biggest 90 minutes of their careers. Sunday is like a [cup] final. That’s the way we’ve got to treat it.”

Livingston won’t train before tomorrow’s match to let their players recuperate.

“I’ve got 15 or 16 fit now. I’m going to have to patch a few people up for Sunday. We need one massive effort. They’re knackered but I know they’ll go again,” said Hopkin.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741414.1526641229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741414.1526641229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Hopkin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Hopkin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741414.1526641229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/ex-hearts-midfielder-scott-robinson-hits-back-at-livingston-critics-1-4741446","id":"1.4741446","articleHeadline": "Ex-Hearts midfielder Scott Robinson hits back at Livingston critics","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526707838000 ,"articleLead": "

Scott Robinson hears the carping about Livingston’s style of play. It’s too aggressive, it’s agricultural, it’s brutal to watch, they say. The midfielder enjoys a wry smile at such comments because it proves David Hopkin’s side are getting under people’s skin.

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Livi’s tenacity has brought them within 90 minutes of a most unlikely promotion. They head to Firhill tomorrow with a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their Premiership play-off with Partick Thistle. Yet it was notable that, for everything said about Livingston’s aggression, both their goals on Thursday night were well-worked. Robinson is happy for others to sit in judgment.

Regardless what is said, Livingston won’t change for anyone. Not now. “We don’t mind what gets said, honestly. We know that, if people are saying that, they must not enjoy playing against us,” said the former Hearts midfielder, now 26.

“We’ve got a style and it’s working, but we can play a bit as well. There are a lot of boys with ability in that dressing room. The gaffer has drilled a mentality and a style into us that gets results and it all comes from hard work.

“We know we need to be switched on for the full 90 minutes tomorrow. Partick will be right up for it. They’re fighting for their lives but we’ve got nothing to lose. We will work hard, keep a shape about us and hopefully nick a goal. If we score then they need to score two just to get extra-time.”

Robinson is riding a wave of euphoria in West Lothian at the moment. Livingston were promoted into the Championship just 12 months ago, yet with one of the division’s smallest budgets are sitting on the brink of the top flight.

They last played there in 2006 and suffered administration and demotion to Scottish football’s bottom tier in the intervening years. “We felt we could get into the play-offs but we never thought of getting to the play-off final,” admitted Robinson.

Promotion would take the player back to where he feels he belongs. After leaving formative club Hearts and spending a year at Kilmarnock, injuries took their toll. He joined part-time East Fife before a visit to a well-known Bradford surgeon changed his career.

“I went down to Bradford to see Dr Schilders last summer,” explained Robinson. “He pinpointed what was wrong and told me I had a small tear in my oblique muscle. He said that was causing all my groin injuries. He went in, released the ligament and put some mesh in. That solved the problem.

I’m feeling strong so long may that continue.

“It would be brilliant to get back in the Premiership. Our target at the start of the season was to stay in the league. To be in this position, we’ve nothing to lose now. We just have to keep going, and who knows? We all believe we can do it but I would say Partick are still favourites.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741445.1526641984!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741445.1526641984!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scott Robinson congratulates Keaghan Jacobs after his equaliser for Livingston on Thursday night. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Robinson congratulates Keaghan Jacobs after his equaliser for Livingston on Thursday night. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741445.1526641984!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}