Rankine, a silent partner after leading a takeover in 2009, has taken a more hands-on role in recent weeks after becoming concerned by the state of the club. Herald Sport understands only a six-figure investment yesterday by Rankine and other local businessmen prevented Livingston from moving towards a third insolvency event in of nine years, with little money available to pay wages and other bills of around £100,000 due in the next fortnight.
Most of the £1.7m debt is owed to Rankine, chairman Gordon McDougall, vice-chairman Robert Wilson and Ged Nixon, the recently departed chief executive, in the form of interest-free loans. The first three have agreed to have £1m of the monies owed them converted into equity, while discussions are planned with Nixon, who left the club last week.
"The club had run up £1.7m of debt and that couldn't continue so we've managed to write off around £1m into a share issue," said Rankine. "There was a wee bit of resistance to that but it's been done now and things have stabilised. I've got a couple of local businessmen who have put money in to join a committee and run the board. There are a load of bills outstanding - more than £100,000 worth - that the new committee have agreed to pay in the next fortnight. Whether that would have meant going into administration [if they hadn't paid them] would have depended on the people we didn't pay.
"A smart guy may have chosen to take a 15-point hit [for going into administration] and started again but with Livingston's history, and what they did to them the last time [relegated the club to the third division], we could have found ourselves out of the league. Financially it would have been a no-brainer if the rules had just been a 15-point penalty. But I don't think the authorities would have looked too kindly on it and I didn't want to test that theory."
Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS) were involved in the talks that brought events to a head. "It is encouraging to see that the recent difficulties at the club have been resolved and that further investment will now come into the club to secure its future," said Paul Goodwin, head of SDS. "We will continue to work with the club and the Livi for Life Supporters Trust to ensure that the club has a long-term sustainable future and that fans have board representation."