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Livingston boss David Martindale expects return of fans to have impact on season

Livingston v St Johnstone – Betfred Cup – Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Livingston manager David Martindale believes the return of supporters will have a “massive impact” this season.

Livi will face Rangers on Saturday in a third-full Ibrox as the champions begin their cinch Premiership title defence, and full crowds are anticipated after a planned easing of Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions on August 9.

Most grounds were empty for the whole of last season and Martindale feels the absence of fans would have been more keenly felt for a second season.

Martindale told LFC Live: “To be honest I am looking forward to going to Ibrox with 17,500 fans there.

“I think if we were going into another season with no fans, it would probably be a lot more mundane this time round.

“Last season we got away with it but I think if we were doing it this season you would see an inferior product on the park.

“I am just delighted we are going back to these big clubs and the fans are allowed to return because I think it’s going to have a massive impact on the season and it’s up to us to make sure we are ready for it.

“These are the games you want to play, that’s why boys are coming up from down south to sign, to play in these big games of football. And we have shown in the past we are more than capable of getting results.”

Covid-19 is still having a major impact on Scottish football, though, with several games cancelled in the Premier Sports Cup, and Livingston are still feeling the effects of an outbreak.

Craig Sibbald and Jason Holt are back in action but still being monitored closely after catching the virus, and both Josh Mullin and Alan Forrest just got out of self-isolation on Saturday.

“It’s not just that after 10 days you feel OK,” Martindale said. “I think it’s affecting people very differently and it’s quite an aggressive strain.

“I am seeing that in the players and I’m seeing that in the boys that are coming back from Covid. I need to be really careful.”