Lessons from Livingston?
Posted by John Beech on September 9, 2009
The immediate saga of the descent of Livingston, following its rise from being an amateur works team, Ferranti Thistle, to its life in senior football as , first Meadowbank Thistle, then, following a franchise-style relocation, to Livingston, and for a brief period the joys of the Scottish Premier League, through an Administration in 2004, sale to an Italian consortium and a period of outrageously bad management, has ended, with the club relegated to the Scottish Third Division (1).
There are a whole set of lessons to be learned, many of them of ‘the Emperor has no clothes’ obviousness, and English clubs would do well to take note.
One that interests me in particular is the one Livingston themselves may yet have to learn the hard way – to cut your cloth according to your circumstances (see, for example, my earlier posting 2). Directly following on their lost appeal against demotion to (Scottish) tier 4, the club have announced that they will retain their full-time status (3). To be fair, they have no choice because of existing player contracts, but this could have been avoided by ‘bad-performance’-related clauses in these contracts – in other words, wages would drop if the club dropped. Last March, Sunderland, for example, announced that their players would take a 40% drop in wages if relegation occurred, which fortunately for both club and players was avoided (4). Increasingly clubs in the top four tiers are introducing such clauses, but I have no information on the state of play in tiers 5 and 6.
A progression for many clubs at the level of the Conference, Conference North and Conference South, has been promotion, a switch to full-time status, subsequent relegation… and then what? A year ago I started trying to log basic data on these progressions, but I must admit that I have failed to get anything like a full data set. What specifically I’m trying to log for all clubs in tiers 5 and 6, and those who have passed through them and back down, is
- when they changed from amateur to part-time
- when they changed from part-time to full-time
- what ‘part-time’ actually meant as percentages of players on different statuses
- (if and) when the clubs reverted to part-time status, and, again, the percentage split among the squad
This I can then compare with the movement of the clubs between tiers through promotion and relegation.
Any offers of information would be most gratefully received. Rather than send them as comments to this posting, please email them to me at the address below (not clickable to avoid spammers). If I can get a reasonably complete set of data, I will publish it on the blog.