‘No panic’ at Livingston, insists David Martindale as Gary Holt quits


DAVID MARTINDALE is adamant there is ‘no panic’ at Livingston as he hailed Gary Holt for having the integrity and bravery to admit defeat in his bid to turn their season around.

Holt made it clear on Saturday night that he would consider his future after a 1-0 defeat against fellow strugglers St Mirren left the Lions in 10th place in the Premiership and without a league win in five attempts.

Nevertheless, his resignation still came as a massive shock, given Livi face Ayr United in the Betfred Cup on Saturday for a place in the last-eight and remain more than capable of achieving top-flight safety.

The facade of the Tony Macaroni Arena | Livingston news
Gary Holt has departed the Tony Macaroni Arena

But Martindale, the club’s head of football operations, revealed that the situation ‘snowballed’ after the Saints defeat, culminating in him saying goodbye to the players and staff on Thursday.

He said: “It is hard to let go of something and this is Gary’s decision. There are not many people in football who would walk away from a salary at this time and that speaks volumes for Gary.

“It was difficult for him but it was a brave and honest decision and that’s testament to him.

“He could have sat here and taken his wages for six months and been a bit unhappy, but he chose not to do that – and that is the type of character he is.

“I didn’t try and change his mind as I respect him too much and he knows what he wanted to do. It is refreshing to see someone making up his mind and sticking by his decision.”

Holt’s exit comes just six months after Livingston secured their best league finish since qualifying for Europe in 2002, registering fifth spot in the curtailed 2019/20 campaign.

However, they have visibly struggled to replace the attacking impetus of Lyndon Dykes and Steven Lawless, who contributed a combined 23 goals and 19 assists last season, with their summer recruitment proving hit-and-miss, at best.

And Martindale confesses that those departures, allied with the challenges being faced by all clubs during the Covid crisis, made Holt’s job much tougher.

He continued: “I said when Lyndon [Dykes] was sold to QPR that I was delighted for the club and him but it made our job that bit harder – and it has.

Lyndon Dykes is the subject of a failed bid from Barnsley | Livingston news
Exit: Dykes’ departure was tough to overcome for Holt

“Right now we are a victim of our own success. Everyone’s expectations went up after last season, including ourselves, but in reality, I would say we probably have the lowest budget in the league.

“I think everything contributed to Gary’s decision – people don’t appreciate how hard this season has been. You have lost the crowds and games can feel a bit flat.

“There is a lot missing this season that maybe got you through other years; uncontrollable variables and no-one knows how this season is going to be.

“Everyone knows it feels different, from players and coaches to journalists.

“The work and football environment is different and that changes your mentality slightly.”

Martindale will spearhead the search for Livi’s third permanent manager in two years alongside chairman Robert Wilson and chief executive John Ward – but stated that there is ‘no timeframe’ at the moment.

They plan to meet to discuss the way forward next Monday.

However, Martindale has emphasised that any boss who fancies a crack at the Livi hot-seat must accept they will be a ‘cog’ in an already-functioning machine.

While he knows that ‘modern’ approach may dissuade some applicants, he is adamant that continuity will bring success.

Livingston manager Gary Holt | Livingston news
Former Livingston boss Gary Holt

He added: “At this club, you have to fit into the structure of the club. The manager isn’t coming in and saying ‘I want a new assistant and six new players’. It doesn’t work like that here.

“We have a more modern-day approach compared to how it has historically been in football. Continuity is key and getting the right person is important.

“In the past, a change of manager saw a change of coaches and players but that doesn’t happen here.

“You are a cog in the wheel, so to speak, but it keeps turning if one changes. We don’t have any sense of panic.”