Livingston rocked by five-point deduction

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LIVINGSTON’S woes increased last night when they were handed a five-point penalty and fined £10,000 by the Scottish Professional Football League after pleading guilty to defaulting on payments to HM Revenue and Customs.

Just two days after dropping to bottom place in the Championship following a 1-0 defeat at Cowdenbeath, the club’s future was placed in further peril by the disciplinary hearing decision to issue sanctions.

Livingston have been fined and handed a points deduction for tax breaches. Picture: SNS

Livingston have been fined and handed a points deduction for tax breaches. Picture: SNS

Livingston now languish on just four points, seven points adrift of second-bottom club Cowdenbeath. The club, believed to be around £1.75m in debt, are already banned from registering new players after volunteering information about undeclared bonus payments earlier this year.

Livingston officials are also due back at Hampden on Friday for an on-going case relating to majority shareholder Neil Rankine, part of a group who rescued the club from liquidation in 2009. He is alleged to have a financial interest in two other clubs – East Fife and Dumbarton.

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Chairman Gordon McDougall was present at Hampden Park yesterday and admitted that the club had broken SPFL rules E20, E22 and E29. The club have defaulted in their tax obligations in relation to payments made to players.

“The club are working with their accountants and HMRC to establish exactly how much tax is due to be paid,” said McDougall. “We will be making no further comment on the situation.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The tax default and reporting rules are an integral part of maintaining a fair league competition.”

Manager John McGlynn refused to comment on the punishment last night. Speaking recently, he said: “It’s got nothing to do with the players that are at this club at this moment in time.

“However, somewhere along the line it’s these players or the people that are here now who are maybe going to be punished. But we’ll deal with that if, or when it comes and we’ll carry on the job we’re doing.”

McGlynn has been struggling to overcome the odds since the summer, when his club was banned from registering new players after volunteering evidence of undeclared bonus payments. In a letter to the SFA and the SPFL, the club alleged up to £35,000 was paid without being subject to tax or national insurance between 2010 and 2011. It was claimed former chief executive Ged Nixon made these payments without the knowledge of other directors.

Prior to that admission, Nixon had launched legal proceedings against the club in a bid to recoup a £311,000 director’s loan. That case is due to be heard in March 2015.

Livingston are now scheduled to return to Hampden on Friday when it is expected that the SFA will complete hearing evidence into the case against Rankine. McDougall is due to be questioned by the Judicial Panel.

Livingston have been charged by the governing body of breaching five rules relating to club ownership after Rankine was accused of holding interests in both fellow Championship outfit Dumbarton and League 2 side East Fife.

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