Gary Holt insists Marvin Bartley is a statement of intent from Livingston following the impending exit of defensive duo

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LIVINGSTON boss Gary Holt insists the capture of Marvin Bartley proves there is life after Craig Halkett and Declan Gallagher.

The Lions will lose their pivotal defensive duo to Hearts and Motherwell, respectively, at the end of the season, breaking up a back-line that has helped propel them from League 1 to Premiership survival.

However, Holt reckons the Lions have made a timely statement of intent by securing Hibs hero Bartley on a three-year deal, hailing the quality and experience of the 32-year-old.

And he is hopeful that Bartley’s impending arrival could sway Livi’s other signing targets towards West Lothian as they aim to rebuild and improve next term.

Holt said: “We are in a transitional period where we will lose a few players. That is part of the business, I’m not going to cry about it and spit my dummy out. We need to add, improve and build throughout the squad.

“Marvin ticks a lot of boxes on the quality side of things. He is the type of player, on and off the pitch, that we want to add.

“Hopefully a few other players we have been speaking to think: ‘Aye, they mean business, it’s not just talk’.

“We’ve looked at players throughout the season who could be an asset to us and getting safety so early has allowed us to be more aggressive in pursuing guys that could be available.

“Marvin came on our radar, I spoke to a few people and he spoke to a few people about us! Everything just seemed to come together and we are all delighted.”

Holt believes being able to tempt Bartley – a Scottish Cup and Championship winner – to Almondvale underlines the impact Livingston have made since their return to the Premiership.

While a blistering start to the season has faded since the turn of the year, the Lions have comfortably achieved their stated goal of avoiding relegation, claiming several notable scalps along the way, including a 2-1 victory against Bartley’s Hibs.

Holt continued: “What we have done this season hopefully means this is a club people will want to come and play. We might not be blessed with the biggest budgets but we give our players everything they need to perform on a Saturday.

“That’s not just coaching and management, it’s the backroom staff, the kit-man, the physios, the chef. It is all geared to succeeding on a Saturday.

“If you do well on the pitch, it will breed success and get attention. This season has allowed us to be more appealing. Combined with that, I think the appeal of coming to play in the Scottish Premiership is as high as it has been for a while.

“With the resurgence of Rangers, Brendan [Rodgers] being at Celtic before Neil [Lennon] came into win the league – there is exposure there for players. We can give players a chance to perform on that stage if they are the right type.”

And Holt is adamant he had no qualms about handing Bartley a three-year contract, which will see him plying his trade with Livi until the age of 35.

He added: “It’s about security and doing things the right way. We are trying to put things in place that give us stability and sustainability, rather than taking a punt on something that could go either way.

“We want to put something in place that has longevity and make sure we can stay at this level because, let’s not beat around the bush, next season is going to be hard. Much harder.”

 
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