New Livingston striker Liam Buchanan insists he never had any reservations about signing for a club that was plagued by so much adversity last season.
The former Partick Thistle and Dunfermline frontman put pen to paper on a two-year deal at the Energy Assets Arena last month after rejecting a new offer from former employers and Championship rivals, Alloa, to join Mark Burchill’s revamped squad.
The scoring spree of Buchanan was one of the few positives in what was a hugely disappointing campaign for the Wasps last year, a heavy defeat in the Petrofac Training Cup final to none other than Livi while a two-legged play-off victory over Forfar was required to preserve the club’s spot in Scottish football’s second tier.
But while Alloa’s struggles centred on what happened on the field, the vast majority of Livi’s dilemmas broke out within the boardroom, a five-point deduction was imposed by the SFA last November for defaulting on tax payments and a £10,000 fine followed. And, as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, the Lions were also hit with two transfer embargoes as punishment for former majority shareholder Neil Rankine being found guilty of breaching dual interest rules by having controlling influences in both Livingston and East Fife.
However, the striker who netted 17 goals last season, was one of the first names to be unveiled by Burchill last month after Rankine disposed of his shares and the embargo was finally lifted.
“People can be a little bit hesitant whenever Livingston and money are concerned,” the 30-year-old told the Evening News. “But look what happened at the club last season with all that went on, they were still able to bounce back by winning a cup and staying in the league – they deserve real credit for that.
“So I haven’t really thought about the negatives because what they managed to achieve under such pressure was remarkable really.
“I played against them and was very impressed with how they set themselves up. It was surprising to see a club that size struggle so I think the players perhaps let themselves down a bit and the guys in the changing room would be the first to tell you that.
“So I’ll be doing all I can to improve the squad this season and add the goals that will keep us challenging at the right end of the division.”
Buchanan admits the lure of a return to first-team football was a significant factor in his decision to swap Clackmannanshire for West Lothian, an opportunity he had longed for ever since his exit from Dunfermline to sign for Irish Premier league outfit Sligo Rovers three years ago.
“I wanted to get myself back playing full time, I still have that hunger,” he explained. “When I knew of the Livingston interest, it was something I was really keen to explore. Alloa did all they could to keep me there but I just felt going full time, under a young manager like Mark Burchill and playing the style of football he wants, it was an easy choice to make.
“I did have another couple of options but I just felt this was the right move to make. I’ve really enjoyed what we’ve been doing so far as we’ve done a lot with the ball. It’s tough but it’s what pre-season is about and it’s about getting out of it what you can.
“There’s been some thought behind every training session. I’ve been away a couple of holidays but we were two weeks later as well in finishing because of the play-offs with Alloa so I didn’t really have to do much to tide myself over.”
Buchanan was complimentary to the squad Burchill has managed to assemble in such a short space of time, the green light to register players having come little more than two weeks ago. With competition up top expected to be one of the most keenly contested at the club, Jordan White, Danny Mullen, Myles Hippolyte and Gary Glen all vying for a starting role, Buchanan is anticipating having a real fight on his hands to for a first-team place.
“First and foremost I need to get myself in the team and the only way of staying in the team is by scoring goals and playing well,” he said.
“The gaffer’s been late to build a squad because of the embargo but he’s done great in signing a couple of quality players. Jackson [Longridge] from Stranraer is only 20 and looks a real talent so there are some high hopes for him. Jordyn Sheerin scored a lot of goals at Musselburgh last season so he’ll be looking to get himself playing and show he can do it in the senior game.
“There definitely seems to be a good balance to the squad so far and I’m sure there will be a couple of more coming through the door before the season gets under way.”