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Livingston have rejected an approach from St Johnstone to speak to David Martindale about their managerial vacancy.

The Lions boss emerged as the early front-runner to replace Steven MacLean, who was sacked by the Perth club on Sunday with the team bottom of the cinch Premiership after no wins from their opening nine games.

Martindale refused to be drawn on speculation linking him with the McDiarmid Park job when he was asked about it at his media briefing on Monday to preview Wednesday’s match away to Hearts.

However, Saints made their move for the Livi manager later that day, only to be rebuffed by the West Lothian club.

Lions chief executive Dave Black moved to clarify the situation on Tuesday evening.

“Following recent speculation over the past 48 hours regarding men’s first-team manager David Martindale, I was keen to provide supporters with an update,” said Black in a statement released on the club’s website.

“Yesterday, the club received an official approach from St Johnstone for permission to speak to David about taking on the vacant position at McDiarmid Park. Following discussions with John Ward, John Mcllvogue and David himself, I informed St Johnstone this morning that we wouldn’t be giving permission for that conversation to take place.

“David has been pivotal in both the on-field success of the club over recent years and on the off-field growth and stability of the club too – something we wish to see continue under David’s leadership for a long time to come.

“Whilst I’ve no doubt that David has ambitions to move on and further his career in management eventually, we weren’t particularly keen to see that next move be to a league rival who we’re currently directly competing against.

“Such is the character of the man, David’s first response was solely on ensuring that full focus remained on tomorrow’s game at Tynecastle and that everyone at the club didn’t lose sight of that. His own mantra has always been that everything at Livingston must be about the we and not the me, and that very much remained the same following these discussions.

“I’ve no doubt this news will be very well received amongst you, our fans, and we hope to see you continue to get right behind David, his coaching staff and all the players as we head into a busy schedule of games between now and the winter break.”

Martindale spent four years in prison from 2006 for drug and money laundering offences but has impressively rehabilitated himself since his release in 2010.

After first getting involved with Livingston on a part-time volunteer basis in 2014, he worked his way up to become manager in 2020. Despite operating with one of the lowest budgets in Scotland’s top flight, the 49-year-old has overseen three consecutive mid-table finishes in his time in charge, helping him attract the attention of St Johnstone.

Alex Cleland is currently in interim charge of Saints while their search for a new manager continues.