Former Dundee defender Matt Lockwood is convinced the five-point deduction imposed on Livingston might just turn out to be the club’s saving grace this season.
The English full-back spent four years on Tayside and was part of the Dens Park squad that remarkably escaped relegation to the Second Division in 2011 despite being docked 25 points after the club entered administration for a second time in October 2010.
The Dark Blues suddenly found themselves a massive 20 points adrift of second-bottom Morton after the deduction left the club on minus 11 points, but a 23-match unbeaten run alleviated any fears of the drop, with then manager Barry Smith guiding his resilient group of players to a sixth-place finish.
With Livingston having incurred just a fifth of what Dundee encountered for defaulting on tax obligations, Lockwood believes there is reason for optimism as the Lions aim to claw back the seven-point advantage held by nearest rivals Cowdenbeath.
The 38-year-old, who still lives in the Capital despite leaving the Premiership newcomers at the end of last season, said: “When we went into administration it was really horrible. It wasn’t nice to see all those people lose their jobs, especially in circumstances when it’s got nothing to do with them.
“But to be fair, what actually happened was that it pulled the lads together. We had that fighting mentality where the league was trying to relegate us so we thought ‘let’s go and prove them wrong’. We got on really well and I think that showed as we went on an amazing run of 23 games unbeaten.
“For it to happen to Livingston now, it really just rubs salt into the wounds as they are already bottom of the league. They’ve got to remember they haven’t gone into administration though so they were never going to get the points deduction we got. So with it only being five points, it’s certainly not the end of the world.”
Lockwood admits the sanctions handed to the club are even harder to bear given the players’ involvement at board level, but accepts any wrongdoings have to be brought to the league’s attention.
“At the end of the day it affects your career,” he said. “The Livingston boys could end up being relegated this season – then the cuts come, salaries decrease so it can be a really hard time. I’m sure they’ll have mortgages to pay, families to feed so it’s not nice.
“You’re relying on the club to be run properly so they’ve got to stick to their part of the bargain as well after players sign their contracts, but that’s football and it certainly won’t be the last time it happens. These punishments are in place for a reason.”
Although Lockwood hasn’t seen Livi in the flesh this season, he feels John McGlynn has a group of hard grafters.
He said: “When I played against Livingston, they always had a really good young squad, so I’m sure it will bring them together and give them something to fight for. If they can stay up on the back of what’s happened then it would be a great achievement for them.”