Charity scores from Twitter poll on Livingston keeper's contract


  • Football
  • Wednesday, 27 May 2020

LONDON (Reuters) - A light-hearted Twitter poll for fans to decide whether Scottish Premier League side Livingston should give their third choice goalkeeper a new contract has ended up providing a welcome windfall for charity.

With a regular job at a civil engineering company, and the COVID-19 pandemic making it a difficult time for clubs, 37-year-old part-timer Gary Maley had offered to stand down so his salary could pay for a younger player.

The club, with some 1,000 season ticket holders and a 9,512 capacity at the Tony Macaroni Arena -- also known as 'The Spaghettihad' -- decided instead to "put it in the hands of fans" on whether to offer 'Stretch' an extension.

"Stay or go -- you decide!," the poll declared.

Assistant manager David Martindale, best man at the goalkeeper's wedding, joined in by promising a pound to charity for every vote -- not a great move in retrospect with more than 190,000 cast by Wednesday.

"We were expecting maybe 500 votes," supporter liaison officer Derek White told Reuters. "We don't have the biggest fan base in the world."

With more than 70% voting yes for Maley to stay, the goalkeeper said he would donate his first two months' pay to the John O'Byrne foundation for sick children and Martindale would match that.

"Delighted to help with that," said Maley, whose Twitter feed had 'gone mental', with some unaware of the true situation and outraged at a club apparently treating a player in such a manner.

"He's been offered legal advice if he wants it. But it was never, ever serious," said White.

"It actually stemmed from Gary trying to donate his wages to a younger player to ensure that we could keep the younger players on. It was always done for a good cause."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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