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Friday, 11 July 2008

Football League Take A Sledgehammer To Luton Nut

Luton Town go into 2008/09 with a 30 point deduction, unless any of their appeals fall on sympathetic ears. If that penalty stays it begs the question of who would part with money to watch the Hatters next season?

The Football League hierarchy might not have noticed the credit crunch but it's a fair bet that most Luton fans- and crucially their casual followers -have. With spending constricted how many irregular football fans are going to spend their cash watching a team effectively condemned to the drop from August?

Simple geography makes it plain that Luton is in a position to offer many other football options- indeed the League itself plonked a rival club up the road in Milton Keynes.

No one doubts that there were irregularities at Kenilworth Road but the penalties being paid are positively draconian. The League are giving no incentive to the consortium that have taken over the club- or what was left to take over. Presumably the League administrators are cushioned by the knowledge that there are many full-time professional outfits in the Blue Square Premier these days, only too happy to step into the breach.

Luton fans are innocent in this, as were Leeds and Rotherham fans before them, yet they are expected to turn up and pay hard-earned money to watch a competition stacked against them from the start. The diehards wll be there but the next generation and the occasional supporter will be somewhere else every Saturday- and promising young players won't sign contracts with the Hatters, threatening their long-term stability.

Brian Mahwinney claims to protect the 'integrity of their competitions' but in what sense are Luton, now consigned to League Two, trying to gain an advantage at the moment? The 20/20 group is trying to save soccer in Luton not trying to flout rules and extract money from the game.

If the League falls back on the 'rules are rules' argument then the rules are stupid if they continue to penalise a club years after the initial errors were made and the perceived attempt to gain an unfair advantage was happening Luton are two divisions down from where they were so it's hardly been a cunning master plan.

If the League are indifferent to Luton's plight and are sanguine that another club can just be admitted to replace them then they should just say so and we can be spared any crocodile tears about balancing the needs of fans against wider considerations.

The fact is most football fans- even those whose clubs can benefit from the deduction- believe the punishment of Luton has gone too far and is making a farce of the competition whose integrity the league is defending.

If the League is concerned at the number of clubs falling into financial adminstration it might look back on the part it played in ITV Digital fiasco when any knowedgable fan could have told them that the sums promised to clubs from that deal were ridiculous and bound to break down.

Draw a line under the saga from here on in, put an amnesy in place for the current crisis clubs and limit deductions to 10 points in future, or relegation for more serious situations. At least then the demoted  sides have a chance to survive and the 'integrity' of the competition is preserved.

COMMENTS

Mark Burton

100% Agree, do you think that the FL have the balls to admit to a mistake and review their punishment. There will be other clubs going into administration, none of which will come out with a CVA, therefore all the unfortunate clubs will face similar penalties; but the ex-boards that put them into admin will be long gone and not have a care about the future punishment(unless it's Ken Bates and a massive club). This story will disapear whilst the ones about Ronaldo & Lampard will remain for weeks, the FL will quietly go about their daily jobs, and clubs like Luton who have a strong history & heritage including wining every league except the top one, and the FL's own cup competition, may be forced to battle the envitable 3rd relegation in a row, or worse, its very own existence. The FL should be ashamed

Tony Ratton

Totally agree with Hugh Larkins arguements. When you look @ what West Ham got away with regarding Carlos Tevaz. Seems theres one rule for the bigger clubs with the big name solicitors and another rule for smaller clubs who can't afford that type of financial clout. It stinks and leaves me feeling very cynical about the beautiful game.

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