BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – CAPITAL CITY PRESS
Livingston player/manager Mark Burchill has expressed his frustration that the Scottish FA’s blanket signing embargo remains in place as his side prepare to return to pre-season training within the next fortnight.
The game’s governing body issued the ban at the start of April after finding principle shareholder Neil Rankine guilty of breaching dual ownership rules over his involvement in League Two side East Fife.
Rankine has been ordered to dispose of his stake in either club and it is claimed that he transferred his shares to former club director Robert Wilson, Neil Hogarth and Graham Leslie last week.
The sanctions also prohibit Burchill from re-signing any of the existing squad, meaning he only has three players – Darren Jamieson, Scott Pittman and Jordan White – tied down for next term.
Striker Burchill is himself one of those players left in limbo although the 34-year-old yesterday did confirm that he has agreed a new deal to remain as manager of the embattled West Lothian outfit.
Burchill, whose side preserved their Championship status on the final day of last term, said: “We are trying to assemble a team for next year and I am making all the phone calls.
“The embargo is still in place but the club are trying to sort that out. It’s above my head and I’m just waiting for the yes or no in terms of signings.
“As it stands, I have three players signed for next season so it’s very important we get the embargo lifted so I can start planning.
“We want a squad of 18 or 20 players and I’m missing out on guys already. We are speaking to people but they are signing elsewhere because other clubs can offer them something.
“We had a difficult time last season and for this to still be dragging its heels, it’s very difficult.
“It’s a frustrating situation, I want to get my team assembled for the first day of pre-season but it’s getting so close that it’s going to be difficult to get that done.
“The season is getting close now, we’re back on the 22nd of June, so it’s getting to a crucial stage.
“I’m led to believe something will happen with the club soon, but we have to wait and see.”
Speaking about his own future as manager, Burchill, who succeeded John McGlynn last December, said: “I will definitely be Livingston manager next season, I will sign my contract in the next 48 hours.”
Livingston have been beset by off-field woe in the last year. In November the club were docked five points and fined £10,000 by the SPFL for breaking tax rules, while it emerged at the weekend that respected chairman Gordon McDougall is considering his legal options to recover money due to him from the club.
Burchill was speaking as he helped to promote Petrofac’s latest fan-focused initiative, the ‘Golden Ticket’, which offers supporters the opportunity to attend a Cup draw in Scotland for the first time.