Livingstone 'only have themselves to blame' for demotion

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The Independent Football

Airdrie United chairman Jim Ballantyne insists Livingston only have themselves to blame after the Scottish Football League relegated them to the Irn-Bru Third Division.

The future of the West Lothian club is back in doubt after the SFL opted to punish them yesterday for breaching the league's insolvency rules.

The decision to strip Livi of their First Division status saw them replaced by Airdrie, who have now avoided the drop for the second straight season following Gretna's demise last year.

Ballantyne said in the Daily Record: "If you ask me if I feel guilty about what has happened to Livingston then the answer is no.

"They have not played within the rules and that is unfair on all the other clubs who have not overspent and have lived within their means.

"I am very happy with the decision of the SFL to uphold the integrity of the league."

Ballantyne admitted the timing of yesterday's decision was not ideal, coming three days before the league is due to kick off.

Should Livi appeal, it would mean the postponement of their opening-day fixture as well as those of Airdrie and Cowdenbeath, who have been promoted from the Third Division.

Ballantyne revealed manager Kenny Black had built a squad capable of winning the Second Division, rather than surviving in the First.

Airdrie and Cowdenbeath were losing play-off finalists last season and the latter's manager, Danny Lennon, was delighted with yesterday's decision.

He said: "This news is a massive lift for everyone at the club, the players, the supporters and the community.

"It was very disappointing to lose in the play-off final and we know it is going to be a difficult task now next season but it is certainly not beyond our players."

One man not happy with the outcome is East Stirling chairman Spencer Fearn, who has demanded the heads of the entire SFL management committee.

Fearn's side were scheduled to host Cowdenbeath on Saturday but are now in limbo over whether they will play Livingston or even take to the field at all.

Insisting Livi should have been hit with a points deduction rather than relegation, Fearn said: "It's a complete farce and a resignation issue for every single person who made the decision to turn Scottish football into an embarrassment just three days before the start of the season."