Sport Scottish FA have sent a 'powerful message' says Livingston boss David Martindale
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Livingston manager David Martindale believes the Scottish FA have sent a ‘powerful message’ after the governing body declared him a fit and proper person.
The 46-year-old underwent an SFA hearing on Tuesday to determine whether his previous conviction for his part in organised crime ruled him out of continuing in his role.
Martindale, who has been employed in a number of different roles within the club over the past seven years, was appointed manager last month after a successful stint as interim head coach following the departure of Gary Holt.
He says the SFA’s decision to rule in his favour shows they are an organisation ‘open to all different walks of life’.
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He said: “Football has sent a powerful message. I think it’s united everyone and it shows you how powerful football is.
“I think it’s been incredible the amount of people who have offered their support; people starting petitions, Hannah Bardell MP, Angela Constance MSP, Phil Scraton (member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel).
“People like that put their head above the parapet when - let’s be honest - they didn’t have to. The could have liked a tweet on social media, but they’ve gone above and beyond that.
“I’ve had football fans from all clubs in Britain almost all supporting it which is unbelievable.
“I think the SFA has sent a powerful message that it’s open to all different walks of life and society.”
Martindale was arrested in 2004 and while awaiting trial, enrolled in university before completing his degree following his release and moving into the construction industry.
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A former Junior footballer, he also started his coaching badges and spent time as the assistant manager of Broxburn Athletic prior to joining the staff at Livi - and he admits he’s got a lot of people to be thankful for at the club.
He said: “I have a friend who worked with West Lothian Youth Foundation named Billy McPhee, who also worked closely with Livingston.
“I played a lot of football with him and he said to me ‘they are really struggling Davie’ and, given Billy had day-to-day dealings with Neil Rankine, he told me they were keen to have a coffee with me.
“I came down and Neil is one of those guys: if you offer to do something for nothing, he’ll take you up on it. That’s how I got my foot in the door.
“I wouldn’t be at this football club without Neil Rankine and Robert Wilson. All the directors who have been at this club, past and present, have been phenomenal with me. John (Ward) and Robert have been incredible.
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“I won’t lie - I got into the football club because they weren’t in a good place financially and I was basically cheap labour.”
He added: “I think society is a lot more open now and accepting of different types of people and diversity.
“I think social media has helped people realise that there’s more to the world than just what you are and that’s been huge.
“If you make a bad mistake then it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, although obviously there are bad people in prison. I met a lot of good people in prison who made one bad mistake in their life and I think society can maybe relate to that a bit more now.”
While Martindale himself has rebuilt his life with the help of Livingston - he’s not the only one with the club having a history of taking a chance on players with a past.
Defenders Declan Gallagher, who spent time in prison following a conviction for assault, and Alan Lithgow, who admitted four public indecency offences over a decade ago, have both captained the club in recent years.
Martindale says the club deserve huge credit for being open-minded about giving people a second chance.
“I think Livingston Football Club, the past and present directors and the past and present owners have to take massive, massive credit for what they’ve done," he said.
“They’ve allowed me to come into the club and grow and evolve in the job back and on the back of that, they’ve allowed me to recruit players with, let’s say, baggage.
“I think the football club is a shining light.
“The Scottish FA have accepted me as a fit and proper person and they wouldn’t be saying that if it wasn’t for Livingston Football Club. They have to get a massive pat on the back for that.”
David Martindale reveals his best bit of Livingston business after beating Kilmarnock .
David Martindale described Scott Pittman as the best bit of business he has ever done at Livingston after the tireless midfielder marked his 250th appearances with a goal. © Scott Pittman scored for Livingston against Kilmarnock. Pittman struck in the dying embers to seal a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock, adding to Jaze Kabia's maiden strike since joining the Lions earlier this month.Martindale, who was working behind the scenes at the club in 2014 when Pittman arrived from Bo'ness United, struggles to find new superlatives for the humble Livi ace but knows his legendary status will not sit comfortably.