Martindale backs selling three stands to away fans at Livi home games

Celtic fans created a display across three stands before the game at Almondvale on Sunday.

David Martindale fully supports giving up the majority of their stadium to visiting fans when Livingston host Celtic or Rangers at Almondvale.

The Lions’ manager insists he would prefer the games being played in that kind of atmosphere rather than seats sitting empty.

With a stadium capacity of just under 10,000 and an average crowd of around 20% of that, the Premiership strugglers are happy to host large away supports when possible, meaning when the big two visit they often have three stands full of away supporters.

Martindale revealed that the model makes up for around 33% of their annual turnover but says from a purely footballing perspective he prefers having as close to a full stadium as possible, even if it means the home crowd are outnumbered.

Celtic brought around 8,000 fans to West Lothian on Sunday and put on a pre-match display across three stands that included pyro and banners paying tribute to Ireland’s ‘Easter Rising’ with the game being played on Easter Sunday.

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - MARCH 31: Celtic fans display during a cinch Premiership match between Livingston and Celtic at Tony Macaroni Arena, on March 31, 2024, in Livingston, Scotland.  (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Another banner behind the goals read “Hold on to our title Bhoys, don’t give up the dream”.

The optics of Hoops fans having a display covering three quarters of the stadium in what was an away game received criticism from some quarters following the 3-0 win, and while Martindale says that side of it could have been handled better, he admits he or the clubs will have no issues with welcoming that amount of away fans again in the future.

“For me, I think it could have been dealt with better on Sunday if I’m being honest, I can’t even remember the message as such If I’m being honest with you.

“But for me, would I rather have a stadium with 8,000 Old Firm fans in it? Yes, all day long because I think it brings a great atmosphere. It brings it’s own problems at the same time, but it brings a great atmosphere to that game of football.

“So I don’t mind if there’s 8,000 Celtic or 8,000 Rangers fans or 4,000 Hearts, 4,000 Hibs or 3,000 Aberdeen, whatever it is.

“This club’s blueprint since we came into the Premiership has been based on that, a lot of the business model has been based on away fans.

“Some folk won’t like hearing that and they’ll ask why, but at the end of the day that makes up for around 33% of our turnover in terms of the away allocation, and if you go into any business and ask if they’re ok to lose 33% of their turnover, I think that answers itself.

“So for me, even if I take the finances out of that equation, I’m still trying to sell those three stands because for me that is what football is, whether it is home fans, whether it is away fans that’s football for me and I want to be working in those environments, high pressured environments with great atmosphere.

“Do I really want, and take this in the nicest possible way, Ross County don’t travel well, we don’t travel well, but Ross County coming down here with a thousand Livi fans and a couple of hundred Ross County fans or we can have 2,000 Livi fans and 8,000 Celtic or Rangers fans, I know what environment I would rather work in.

“And that’s without taking the finances into consideration, so for me that’s for people within the club to deal with and for Celtic to deal with, whatever happens at that point, or the police whatever it is.

“For me, from a purely football perspective, I would much rather have a full stadium.”

Martindale’s side will next face Aberdeen on Saturday.

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