Interim Livingston head coach David Martindale has proved he is a changed man since leaving prison, says chief executive John Ward.
Martindale, who was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in 2006 for organised crime offences, is the frontrunner to succeed Gary Holt permanently.
Ward says Martindale rejected an offer to become manager in 2018 for fear of bringing “embarrassment” to the club.
“Before we appointed Gary I thought David should take the job,” Ward said.
“He was getting more and more involved and when Kenny Miller left he was actually taking responsibility for the team, and he had been before Kenny came in.
“I floated that with him but he felt there wasn’t an awful lot about his past in public and that it would bring a bit of embarrassment to the club and to him.
“Moving into the Premiership, all of this stuff came out in the media anyway and Davie’s past was being raked over. He has nothing to hide from anyone. He has held his hands up and he has been very honest.
“Everyone should have an opportunity to move forward and reinvent themselves.”
Livingston say they are in no rush to make a quick appointment, with the club ninth in the top flight.
However, Ward is adamant that Martindale should not be “discriminated against” if the club choose to hand him the reins full-time.
“He has served his time,” he added. “That shouldn’t be with them for the rest of their life.
“I absolutely believe [David’s problems] are all in the past. I still run businesses and David is one of the most honest people I have come across.”
Martindale, who has risen to the role of head of football operations after joining the club as a volunteer in 2014 under manager John McGlynn, says he only considered being head coach within the last year.
“I would put cones out, kick balls, do anything they asked me,” he said. “I was just delighted to help out in a professional set-up.
“Would I see myself then as now sitting here and talking to you guys? Not in a million years.
“My biggest problem is I have never wanted to be away from the club. I always felt if you were the manager it leads to either not doing well and potentially getting sacked, or doing well and potentially moving on.
“I have never really seen my career away from Livingston.”
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The Livingston board want to give Martindale his shot at glory. There is also no doubt he has worked tirelessly to put the past behind him.
Football, though, can be a cruel game and there are some who will never forgive.
The influence Martindale has at the club is never more evident than on a matchday, with his roar bellowing from the dugout. Although he has not been the manager he must be given part of the credit for the club’s rise from League One to established Premiership side.
The players talk very highly about Martindale’s influence in the dressing room. Lyndon Dykes was full of praise for the part he played in his development before a £2m move to QPR.
The fact Livingston are not encouraging any more applications indicates they already have their man in place.