Livingston chief executive John Ward has said David Martindale’s history with the club is what matters – not his criminal conviction from fourteen years ago.
Martindale, who has recently spoken about his time in jail for drugs offences, is in interim charge of the team following Gary Holt’s departure, and will be given more time to prove he should be given the job on a permanent basis.
Ward said Martindale had proven his commitment to Livingston, and his character, over years at the club and that he would be a solid and dependable choice.
“I wanted Davie to take the job the last time,” Ward told STV.
“Anybody who knows the club will know that Davie has been here for a while and he’s been here through good times and bad times.
“When I first got involved here as a sponsor, I would come in and Davie would be on the park helping with training and then half an hour later I would look out and he would be on the roof putting signs up. That’s the type of guy he is.
“In terms of his football capability I don’t have any issue. And he lives and breathes Livingston.
“Of all the people that I’ve done business with over the years, and that includes people we have had here at Livingston, I would trust Davie above most of them. If he says he is going to do something then he does it.
“We had a conversation about him taking interim management here. I know this personally, he would be the first person to hold up his hands and say ‘This isn’t working’ or ‘We’ve got an issue’ or ‘I don’t think I’m capable’. He’s looked me in the eye and said ‘I think I can do this. I would like to.’ so we’ll see what happens in January.”
Ward said when he was keen on Martindale stepping up to replace Kenny Miller after the striker’s short-lived spell in charge, it was the coach himself who was hesitant and decided against it. However, he feels now that Martindale’s 2006 conviction, and subsequent six-and-a-half year prison sentence, is now public knowledge and shouldn’t be an issue.
“David didn’t feel he was ready for it,” Ward said. “And he also is very conscious, I don’t know if you saw the Guardian article recently, he doesn’t shirk responsibility for his background.
“It’s now 16 years [since his arrest] and we’re all vastly different people from what we were 16 years ago.
“He holds his hands up and says he doesn’t want to bring embarrassment to the club or bring issues to the club. But of course as soon as we got to the Premiership his past was in the papers and made known and whatever else so I guess he was thinking ‘I don’t want to do this’.
“The reality is that it’s out and everyone knows now and it’s a day-to-day reality for him.”
Livingston have also employed players with difficult pasts and Ward believes that there is a social obligation not to exclude people on the basis of their history if they have shown they will embrace an alternative path.
“There is a lot of poverty in Scotland,” he said. “I’ve been involved in the Children’s Panel in this area for 15 years.
“One in four children is growing up in poverty and that brings its own issues around crime and education etc. so if we’re not going to give people from housing schemes or from deprived upbringings, if we’re not going to give them opportunities then we’re excluding a huge proportion of the community.
“You’re always going to get banter with fans but there’ won’t be a team, hopefully, that hasn’t given opportunities to kids that otherwise would be going into a life of crime.”
For the time being, Martindale will work as interim boss, having previously been in the dugout alongside Holt as director of football operations and part of the coaching staff.
A decision on the permanent manager may not be taken until the new year but Ward insists that no matter who is in charge, the manager will call the shots but the stability of the club is paramount.
He said: “Whenever we’ve gone out looking for a manager, and this will be the third time we’ve done this, we’ve always said that we need someone who can come in and fit with the staff we’ve got here.
“We’ve got a backroom staff that have been here for the best part of seven or eight years and they’ve also been instrumental in the success that we’ve had and they’ve been there when we’ve had tough times.
“The size and scale of our budget determines that we can’t have a clear-out of people to bring in four or five people to suit the new manager’s style or whatever.”