DAVID Martindale has claimed Livingston need substantial investment in order to compete with clubs in the top six of the cinch Premiership again and revealed there will be a “massive reset” in the summer even if they avoid relegation due to “external” factors.

The West Lothian outfit are 10 points adrift of Ross County at the bottom of the Premiership table with just seven games of the 2023/24 campaign remaining after losing 3-0 at home to league leaders and defending Scottish champions Celtic on their artificial pitch on Sunday.

Martindale, whose men take on Aberdeen at home on Saturday in their penultimate match before the split, refused to write off their chances of remaining in the top flight and vowed that everyone at the Tony Macaroni Arena would continue to give their all in the weeks ahead.

However, the 49-year-old, who led Livingston to sixth, seventh and eighth place finishes in the Premiership as well as into the League Cup final during his first three seasons in charge, confessed the challenges of recent months had taken a toll on him.

The Herald: He has sensed the gulf in quality between his side – who gained a well-earned reputation for being notoriously difficult to beat during the early years of his tenure - and teams like Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers has widened considerably this term.

Livingston were taken over back in September when Glasgow-based businessman John McIlvogue and his Baycup Ltd firm assumed control. At the time, chairman John Ward expressed hope they would be able to “exceed previous achievements”.

However, Martindale feels that a sizable cash injection is now required. He revealed that off-field issues were still a major factor at the club and acknowledged that he will be unable to hold on to numerous members of his squad even if Premiership survival is somehow secured. 

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“As a club, we probably need a massive reset, whether that is in the Premiership or the Championship,” he said. “It needs a massive reset at this club, it needs investment.

“I’ve found this year difficult. Playing against the Old Firm, I’ve found it difficult, more so than in other years. Because I just feel that gap is just getting that wee bit bigger year on year.

“I even probably look at Hibs and Hearts and that gap is getting that wee bit bigger there also. It is probably not as big as it once was, but I’m looking at investments at other clubs and thinking that is what we need if we want to progress as a football club.

“I think most teams in Scottish football can probably – outwith the top five or six – play that card. But more so ourselves. I’ve just found it difficult to bridge that gap this year.”

Martindale added: “Community clubs our size with no external investment and nobody who has got deep pockets to go and throw some money in the January window to entice that level of player?

“I knew in the summer it was going to be difficult. We’ve probably got 15 players out of contract come this summer.

“The position of the club can’t really change. There are a lot of external things happening just now, and whether I knew we were safe in the Premiership or not, it’s not really going to change my position in terms of speaking to these players and trying to keep them at the football club.

The Herald: “The harsh reality is, there is going to be a massive reset at the club, which is probably more for external reasons rather than internal reasons in the coaching staff if that makes sense. Upstairs and external reasons.

“There are going to be a massive changes at the club whether we stay in the league or whether we don’t stay in the league.”

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Livingston have managed to win just one Premiership game in the last six months – they defeated St Mirren 1-0 at home in February – but Martindale has not given up hope of them staying up.

“I’m not going to be pessimistic about it,” he said. “The two outcomes, let’s be really honest here, is that we get relegated or we stay up in the play-offs, that’s the two options.

“My perspective, my mindset, my approach, is not going to change from matchday one to matchday 38. Now, if after matchday 38 we are in the play-offs, my mindset will still not change.

“If we are relegated mathematically at whatever stage of the season, that next game, my mindset won’t change. It’s my job to make sure the players feel the same.

“I’m not going to sit here and sound delusional. We’ll approach the Aberdeen game to try to get three points and then we’ll go into the next match and the next match and that is how we’ll approach it.

“My mindset is not going to change and I’m pretty sure the players’ won’t either. I can 100 per cent guarantee that the staff’s won’t.

“As a club, we’ll keep fighting as a group, because at this stage of the season it’s very easy for that to go out and to start looking for excuses and start blaming people, and that’s the one thing I won’t allow to happen.”

The Herald: