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Livingston boss David Martindale backs SPFL stance on postponements

By December 28, 2021No Comments

Livingston manager David Martindale has backed the Scottish Professional Football League’s stance on postponements following criticism from top-flight rivals.

Dundee and St Mirren have both criticised the SPFL decision-makers over the past week after failing with requests to call off games amid Covid-19 outbreaks.

The league’s director of operations Calum Beattie responded on Monday to say the board had to stick with the policy agreed by clubs before the start of the season.

Martindale told Sky Sports News: “I agree with the SPFL 100 per cent, if I’m honest.

“Every club was involved in these talks at the start of the season and every club got to put their own criteria forward.

“We had a vote and everyone agreed that if they had 13 players, and one was a goalkeeper and 10 of them were over 18, then we were going to fulfil that fixture.”

St Mirren fielded 16-year-old Dylan Reid against Celtic last week and their bench had zero first-team experience, although they held their visitors to a goalless draw.

Dundee could only name four substitutes against Aberdeen on Saturday with their bench made up of two goalkeepers, a 17-year-old and 40-year-old assistant manager Dave Mackay.

Livingston boss David Martindale backs SPFL stance on postponements PLZ Soccer
St Mirren fielded 16-year-old Dylan Reid against Celtic last week (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“I knew this was going to happen with teams,” Martindale said. “I obviously called for the winter break to be brought forward a little bit earlier than some clubs because we could see this happening.

“I don’t think it’s fair on sporting integrity but we have all got to realise we all voted for this at the start of the season, so I don’t think you can lay the blame at the door of the SPFL if I’m honest.”

Dundee boss James McPake had accused the SPFL of putting players and their families at risk.

St Mirren chairman John Needham called for a “judicious application of the rules” to take account of new self-isolation regulations affecting household contacts.

However, Beattie pointed out that the policy was finalised after consultation with clubs and “provides certainty and consistency on the criteria”.

Beattie added: “Failure to administer the policy consistently could lead to clubs choosing not to fulfil specific fixtures, which would have massive implications for sporting fairness, increase pressure on other clubs and threaten the ability to complete the season.”

The Premiership is scheduled to resume on January 18 and Martindale is hopeful that data on the severity of the Omicron variant will lead to the Scottish Government relaxing self-isolation rules after periods were shortened in the likes of the United States and England.

“That would really help football in general because you are not going to lose players for 10 days if their partner is ill or they have picked up Covid themselves,” he said.