Last updated : 07 June 2004 By editor

'Boston apparently outpriced Aberdeen in the race to sign the Livingston striker, with Allan Preston, his former coach at Almondvale, suggesting only the Old Firm could have competed with what the York Street side offered a player who scored 18 times last season.

Clearly money was not the only factor influencing the man who scored one of the goals in Livingston’s CIS Cup final victory over Hibs. A three-year-contract and an escape from the claustrophobic nature of Scotland’s top flight which saw him face Aberdeen seven times over the past campaign were also plus points.

But the Sunday Herald understands the club from the lower reaches of English football were still able to offer Lilley a basic package of £900 a week and then heavily load his contract with performance-related bonuses.

Given the average weekly wage in the SPL, outwith the Old Firm, is probably around £1,000 a week, it is not hard to see how Lilley’s long-term deal will have pleased his bank manager. Two steps higher up the food chain, Plymouth are believed to be paying around £1,500 a week in basic wages – and that is less than half the average for the First Division.

"It is always been no contest between the SPL and the Premiership because of their media income, but even after the collapse of ITV-Digital, it is still clear that many in the Nationwide leagues are better off than us," suggested David Glen, the man responsible for PricewaterhouseCooper’s annual financial review of Scottish football.

"It doesn’t surprise me that Plymouth can pay more than an Aberdeen or a Livingston, but I’m slightly surprised this financial power has moved so far down the English lower leagues that a Third Division club can be more appealing than an SPL one," he added.

One man expressing no surprise at all is Fraser Wishart, the assistant secretary of the Scottish Professional Footballers’ Association. He knows players in the English Conference league who are earning £50,000 a year – as much or more than many in the SPL . "You have to look at size of crowds and turnovers. That is where the realisation hits home about our position in the game. When I look down the results pages for the English leagues at the weekend I probably have to read to the bottom of the Second Division before you find a crowd that is lower than your average SPL attendance.

"For some reason we’re not getting the fans in. I watched Dunfermline many times last season. They had a fantastic campaign, played good attacking football and yet they couldn’t get people through the gates. Football fans in Scotland have to understand that if they are not going to pay to watch it, we’re not going to have players staying in this country and the product will suffer."