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Livingstone in administration - can they survive?

LIVINGSTON could cease to exist next week after administrator Donald McGruther admitted the club's position is dire.

Former Dumbarton chairman Neil Rankine was last night distancing himself from a takeover as the club were forced into interim administration by West Lothian Council.

Former Cowdenbeath owner Gordon McDougall is now the club's best hope for survival, but he will only invest if the figures make sense.

Livingston players have agreed to turn out for nothing for their Challenge Cup tie at Queen of the South - and it could be the last game the club plays.

Asked to describe the situation, McGruther said: "It's dire. Liquidation is absolutely a possibility.

By the middle of next week, if the figures don't stack up and other bits and pieces don't fall the right way, we're out of business."

West Lothian Council moved to pull the plug on controversial chairman Angelo Massone yesterday morning after he allowed the club to run up debts of £330,000, mostly on rent and rates arrears.

Council Leader Peter Johnston said: "Given the current situation, we believe administration is the best way forward for the club. Our goal remains a secure future for senior football in West Lothian and we will offer the administrator any assistance we can towards this goal."

However, sources close to Rankine claim he has been left disappointed at the timing of the council's move as it now backs the SFL into acorner.

They will ask for guarantees from McGruther on Monday that Livi can fulfil all their fixtures in the First Division next season but he will be unable to make that pledge and the club are likely to be demoted to the Third Division.

Rankine does not want to operate the club at that level and is now set to walk away. Other clubs have already made approaches for his financial backing after news broke of his Almondvale interest.

McDougall will spend the weekend number crunching and will be invited to make an offer for the club early next week if the administrator can persuade Massone to sell his shareholding.

He can refuse to sell and put the club out of business but his legal advisors are urging him to co-operate - and the controversial Italian insists he can still emerge to lead the club again.

Liquidated The administrator is playing down that prospect but the problems will come if McDougall baulks at the investment needed by the club and decides not to make an offer.

At that point, it will be liquidated and the club will cease to become a member of the Scottish Football League.

McDougall is keen to deal and held some discussions with McGruther yesterday, although it's likely creditors will only get a fraction of the money they are owed.

McDougall said: "I'm definitely interested and have been all along. I'll be looking at things over the next few days and doing what I can to save the club."

Massone again rounded on the council for their decision to call in the administrators, labelling it a scandal.

He said: "I was ready to put more money into the club but the council just don't trust me. Now I'm interested to see if people who have talked a good game, such as Mr McDougall, can follow it up by actually showing some money.

"One thing's for sure, if Livingston go into liquidation, it will be the fault of West Lothian Council."

Meanwhile, keeper Roddy McKenzie last night revealed the Livingston players made the unanimous decision to go ahead with this afternoon's Alba Challenge Cup clash with Queen of the South after being presented with the option of pulling out of the game by the administrators.

However, the shot-stopper, who has been through this scenario before when the club was placed in administration in 2004, insisted the decision to press on with the tie was unanimous.

He said: "We met with the administrator and he gave us the option of not playing the Queens game. But everyone agreed that we should play - it was a unanimous decision.

"We are obviously concerned about what happens next but we want to play our part in making sure the club survives.

"We want to help send out a message to the supporters that we are right behind the efforts to keep this club alive."

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