Livingston manager David Martindale admits his players will need to be motivated by pride rather than money as they bid to finish fifth in the Scottish Premiership.
Beating St Johnstone on Saturday would earn Livi about an extra £70,000 in prize money but Martindale expects any financial boost will merely plug gaps caused by the Covid crisis.
A £2million fee from QPR for Lyndon Dykes initially helped Livi deal with the financial losses but they have now exceeded the transfer income.
“We have lost so much money,” Martindale said. “At the start of the season we never even had win bonuses because nobody knew when fans were coming back in, nobody knew when the next tranche of money was coming from.
“The Scottish Government loan has really helped and part of the regulations were that it’s not used to pay off historic debts, bonuses or buy players. So we need to be really careful with that.
“The extra £70,000, potentially the board will give me some of that to go to the boys but it won’t be a typical league finishing position. Three points are at stake and that’s the motivator, probably not the financial situation.
“If it wasn’t for that loan, I’m not sure where we would be right now. Lyndon’s money got us to a certain stage in the season, that just covered a black hole.
“We have lost roughly £2-2.5million and then you add in the cost of Covid testing, we are up to a quarter of a million pound in that alone.”
Martindale, who expects Scott Tiffoney to seal a move to Partick Thistle or elsewhere, added: “We are probably going to lose roughly 15 players this season. So I need to be extra, extra smart with my recruitment.
“The squad had more depth because of Covid, because you were allowed 20 in the team sheet and Covid could kick four or five players out.
“If we weren’t in Covid times, there are probably three or four players I would probably offer contracts to, but I can’t do it.”
Martindale had fears at some stage that the season would not finish but he thought Scottish football had got out of the woods before his next opponents were struck.
St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson had up to eight players missing through an ongoing Covid issue for Wednesday’s defeat by Celtic.
“I feel for Callum, we have had it a few times, getting hit by track and trace after Aberdeen, Robby (McCrorie) coming back from Scotland 21s,” Martindale said.
“I thought we had managed to get away from Covid as a football association because it quietened right down.
“I feel for Callum because, let’s be honest, I hope it impacts Saturday but I hope it doesn’t impact his season.
“And what I mean by that, it would be really, really disappointing for St Johnstone if they are going to be missing some important players for a cup final.”