Match Of The (Mid)Week – Luton 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

20 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   February 19, 2009  |     11

When one thinks of pitch invasions at Kenilworth Road, one might be inclined to think of the infamous mass fight between Luton and Millwall supporters at an FA Cup match in 1985. Last night, there was a pitch invasion at Kenilworth Road but there was no violence involved this time, merely an explosion of anger, defiance and celebration at one of the more unlikely cup final appearances in the recent history of English football. Last night, in what will almost certainly be their last season (for now) in the Football League, Luton Town booked a Wembley appearance in the Football League Trophy with a penalty shoot-out win against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Luton’s plight has been covered on here before. In a measure so punative that it borders on being sadistic, the club was docked thirty points at the start of this season. It was a hammer blow to the club and, moreover, it wasn’t even the fault of the people currently in charge at Kenilworth Road. Over the last two seasons, they suffered at the hands of a boardroom who were either amazingly incompetent or deliberately negligent (their can be no other reason for their behaviour). At the start of this season, they had a completely threadbare squad and an uphill battle to retain their league status which has proved to be insurmountable. Even now, they sit at the foot of League Two with just two points, twenty-one adrift of third from bottom Barnet. What is more amazing than anything else, however, is that the club’s financial difficulties weren’t even the responsibility of the consortium that currently owns them. The current owners only took over ownership of Luton Town in February 2008, but such is the perversity of the people running the Football League that they have punished the current owners and the long-suffering supporters of the club whilst, of course, the perpetrators of this particular crime have got away scot-free.

The result last night cast into sharp contrast the sudden decline of Brighton & Hove Albion. Last season, Albion finished in seventh place in League One, just one place away from the play-offs. However, during the summer they sacked manager Dean Wilkins and replaced him with Mickey Adams, a decision which seems to have been very costly indeed. Albion have struggled all season after a reasonable start (during which they knocked Manchester City out of the League Cup on penalties). Adams has been widely criticised for playing such an unattractive style of football. His brand of long ball game has one significant flaw – when one plays a game that is entirely geared towards getting results, it is shown up as the emporers new clothes when the results don’t come. It becomes merely bad football. It would be surprising if Adams lasts the summer at The Withdean Stadium and one suspects that if he makes it to the end of the season, it will only be because this is such a difficult time of the year to find a decent replacement.

Last night, however, was about Luton Town. The Football League Trophy (currently sponsored by Johnstones Paints) is the competition for the clubs of the bottom two divisions of the Football League. It’s a massive achievement for Luton to have reach the final of it. Whether it will come to rank as highly in the memories of Luton’s supporters as their 1988 League Cup final win at Wembley against Arsenal is difficult to gauge at present. If one thing is for certain, though, it is this. Luton’s supporters should turn this Wembley final into a protest against a decision that was unexplained, unjustified and disproportionate to a ridiculous extent. Many peoples image of the club is still tarnished by the plastic pitch and the membership card experiments of the 1980s, but football supporters should put that stereotype behind them. All of that was carried out by David Evans, the former Conservative MP who died last year. To continue to hold a grudge against the club on the basis of a long-departed (and, indeed, now deceased) former chairman is petulant in the extreme. Luton should be congratulated on their one major achievement – they should do everything that they can in order to bow out of the Football League with a bang against Scunthorpe United at Wembley next month.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • February 19, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Martin Drake

    If the club has benefitted on the pitch from going into administration to avoid paying its debts, then what else can the football authorities do except punish the club accordingly, regardless of who owns it?

    Clubs and their owners want the benefits of being limited liability companies without any of the risks and responsiblities that come with it. Of course Luton’s old owners should be pursued and never allowed to own or run a football club again, but clubs are putting the administrators and the HMRC in an impossible position.

    These point deductions are a symptom of the way football is run dishonestly, not a cause.

  • February 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

    joey diconio

    That is a very simplistic view Martin.

    in 2004/2005 Luton walked away with the League One title with a team it could easily afford.

    Over the next 2 and a bit seasons we sold around £13million worth of players, including Curtis Davies, Kevin Nicholls, Rowan Vine, Steve Howard, Leon Barnett, Carlos Edwards. Due to the mis-management by the likes of Bill Tomlins, John Mitchell, David Pinkney and others we somehow squandered all this cash, without any on field or off field benefit for the club, we have endured 2 and a bit seasons of complete dross on the pitch and suffered 2 relegations (and 1 10 point deduction) lost more players Chris Coyne, David Edwards & David Bell.

    So this season we start with a 20 point deduction from the Football League for going into Adminstration for the 3rd time, not taking into account that the first 2 times were not simple “administrations”, the first was forced by a character called Cliff Bassett and the second engineered by the supporters to remove a certain John Gurney, an asset stripper determind to hold the club to ransom to get a signficant pay-off.

    As for the additional 10 point deduction, Luton (Bill Tomlins) were guilty of making payments to agents from the wrong company, nothing illegall about the payments just the administration of them, surely a fine and a suspended deduction for the new owners would have been the sensible option??

    Meanwhile West Ham, Birmingham, Newcastle can do what the hell the want.

  • February 19, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    ian robertson

    I tend to agree with you in some small respect martin but if what you say is correct would you say that this sort of punishment would be laid upon premiership clubs i.e west ham over the teves affair.?

    No i dont think so were are made an example out of because were are luton town but i will say only one thing the spirit and passion will never die at this club and stupid comments from twats like yourself martin never really have any thought.

    well done mick and the boys 2020

  • February 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm


    You are evidently CLUELESS about what REALLY happened at our club.

    The only ‘DISHONESTY’ was the actions of the PREVIOUS regime, and it had NOTHING to do with football.

    I REALLY wish people would take the time to learn the FACTS about our plight, rather than simply attacking us with only a fraction of knowledge regarding what happened.

  • February 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Ben Tye

    Mr Drake,

    You will find yourself in the minority with your absurd opinion, the club did not benefit from going into administration as key players had to be sold and prior too that because of board dishonesty we lost a very good Manager.

    So yes in conjunction with league rules, dock Luton 15 points. However, can you honestly say that LTFC2020, the club or the fans deserved a further 15 point deduction? I do not believe you could find any such justification, the football league clearly wanted to make an example of Luton Town and as a result a fantastic community club will be lost from the football league.

    Are you saying the men who ruined Luton Town should not be punished, but the new owners, the club and the fans should? The point deductions against Luton are a symptom of the FA not having any common sense.

    Punish the people who corrupted our club, not the people that support it.

  • February 19, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Brian Mugz

    “If the club has benefitted on the pitch from going into administration to avoid paying its debts, then what else can the football authorities do except punish the club accordingly, regardless of who owns it?”

    Just how exactly have Luton benefitted on the pitch from all this?? 2 successive relegations, another one imminent. over £12m of transfer fee profit (which would have easily covered losses during the same time scale) disappearing into a supposed black hole? Even though the Football League and FA have a “fit and proper person test” for club owners, yes this means THEY approved the previous boards, but THEY still punish the clubs (not just Luton) for their failures to protect the club from dodgy owners seeking to feather their own nests. Where is the supposed protection offered, and where is the authorities support when things go wrong and the club themselves report it? Luton themselves reported a problem and got heavily punished for it, had they have kept quiet and not been honest they would now be 10 points better off. Honesty pays? obviously not….as Martin put “These point deductions are a symptom of the way football is run dishonestly, not a cause”

  • February 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Sheff Hat

    I can’t let Mrtin Drakes ignorance pass without stating some facts.
    The club was royally shafted by the previous owners who had only one thing in mind – that was to make a personal fortune from moving the club to a new ground out of the town that was massively unpopular with the fans. They had transfer income of £13m over 2 1/2 years more than enough to cover all the clubs running costs and only they know where it disappeared to. The present consortium is made up of REAL fans and they in fact offered to by out the previous owners and pay off the debts they had accrued and thus avoid administration. For reasons only known to themselves the previous owners dismissed the offer.

    The fact that the previous owners had passed the Football League / FA right and proper persons test was totally ignored in their judgement and vindictive penalties.

    The 10 points deducted by the FA for “transfer irregularities” was applied because the previous owners paid agents fees from the account of their holding company and not from the Football Clubs bank account. (They did this to try and hide the fact they were paying agents from the manager Mike Newell). These payments to the agents were completely legitimate, indeed the agents got nothing more than a slap on the wrist for their part in accepting the payments from the wrong account. I’d like to know why WHU just got fined for playing an illegible player (Tevez) for half a season and the Town got a points penalty for a minor infringement that had no benefit to what went on on the pitch. Perhaps it’s because they are a premiership(t) club and the FA don’t have the balls to hand out the deserved penalties to the “big” clubs.

  • February 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm


    We as supporters agree that there was a need for punishment however the punishment was so over the top it was scandalous whilst the owners at the time got away with petty fines if that.

    What was left out as well, is that it was someone from within the club who brought the dodgy dealings to the attention of the FA and in return for our honesty docking us 10 points to go along with the 20 for going into administration for the 3rd time. What sort of message does that send out punishing a club hard for it’s honesty, who else in their right mind is going to follow suit now seeing what happens therefore it all gets shoved under the carpet.

    Also administration 3 times in the past 10 years, what happened to the FL’s screening process to ensure a club gets owners in who will do a good job and has the clubs best interest at heart? The FL should look at their own processes and sharing some of the blame.

  • February 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Chris Norton

    Ok – so how did we benefit on the pitch? We have had 2 relegations and now face a third in the last 3 years- hardly seems to me like we benefitted on the pitch. How do you explain the whereabouts of the 12.5 million pounds of transfer money that came into the club in the 18 months prior to going into administration also?

  • February 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm


    Martin – I’m not sure how Luton are supposed to have benefitted from going into admin? Is what will probably be three relegations in three years not enough? How have we benefitted on the pitch? If it wasn’t for the 2020 consortium there would be no football club and none of the adminitration debts created by the previous board would have been paid. What do the consortium get in return? A smack in the mouth from the FA and FL by way of thanks. I suspect Dr Mahwhinney’s hand will not be shaken by the board or any of the players when we have our day out at Wembley in April.

  • February 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Drake Martin

    If you call successive relegations and an imminent one to the Conference a benefit then you have a distorted case. Incompetent owners caused the problems and Luton’s new owners paid rather more in the pound to creditors than other clubs going into the same situation.

  • February 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Geoff Wesley

    Could you please explain how Luton Town ” benefitted on the pitch” in this case…I would`nt think two relegations in successive years qualifies.

  • February 19, 2009 at 5:50 pm


    Let’s be fair here.
    The guys currently in charge of the club made offers to the previous owners to buy the club without going into administration. They never wanted this, they wanted to keep the ship afloat and sort out the finances the correct way. The monkeys who were running it previoulsy wouldn’t sell to them and forced the club into administration before walking away in an act that demonstrates in itself how unsuitable the were to run the club in the first place (despite being approved by the FA to do just that). But still, lets punish the new guys for it shall we?

    In terms of ‘punishing the club accrodingly’ we were docked 10 points last season for going into adminisitration half way through the year (not last minute like leeds) we served our punishment then and were relegated from League 1.

    Enough? No?
    How about a further 20 point fine for not coming out of administration the way the FA and FL require you too (a requirement that incidentaly if you adhere to will see HMRC taking you straight to court and winding up the business for you)

    Still not enough?

    How about an additional 10 point deduction for paying agents and players from the wrong bank account. not avoiding paying in a tax dodge or paying too much in a bung. Paying the exact amount disclosed and above board just from the wrong account.
    Surely there would be an allowance for the fact that the authorities knew nothing about this and it was only the honest members of the club itself that shopped the previoulsy mentioned monkeys for these incorrect practices? No lets throw the boot in again. How should we punish them? In the same way as Bolton, Man Utd and West Ham were punished for the same offence. Oh no, that’s right they were all let off with a quiet word. let’s forget that and give Luton another 10 points

    In the shadow of this i have never been prouder of Luton. The new owners have put in everything to try and save what some see as a lost cause. They have fought our corner, gone over every hurdle, jumped through every hoop and swallowed every bitter pill the authorities have given them, supporting the manager and the team and given the fans something to finally cheer for and believe in. Survival this season may be unlikely but we’re still standing, we’re still watching games and now we’re off to wembley!

    Just remember no one know what the season will bring and the only thing that has been proved for certain is that the FA and FL wont help and dont care. Who’ll be next?

  • February 20, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Micky F

    Great article, shame about the uninformed comments of Mr Leach. A lot of supporters of other clubs (even watford) have expressed support for our plight because they have researched what happened at our club and can see how we were ripped off and left in this position by a bunch of greedy crooks. I advise you to do a bit more research before posting your opinions in future Mr Leach.

  • February 20, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Ron Ipstone

    The only people who have been ‘ripped off’ by the unsatisfactory way in which the affairs of Luton Town FC have been managed is the great British taxpayer, so far as I am aware, the Luton fans (Hatters) have watched the football which they have paid for.

    To understand the deduction of points by the Football League one has to appreciate that in effect it is a new company (Luton Town Football Club 2020 Limited) which has been admitted to membership of the Football League. This company was NOT entitled as of right to membership for the reason that the debts of the old company, now dissolved, had not been satisfied or compounded by means of a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

    As a condition of membership the League imposed on the new company a requirement that it agree to a 20 point deduction, and further that it would not appeal that deduction once it was a member of the League. This should not be regarded as a punishment as the new company have done nothing wrong. It is not the directors of the new company who are at fault because a CVA cannot be agreed. It is, however, a handicap which is imposed on the new company to counteract the fact that the non footballing debts of the old company have been written off or substantially discounted, without the consent of the creditors given by way of a CVA.

    It is not the West Hams or Manchester Uniteds of this world that benefit from the Luton points deductions, but the Chesters, Dagenhams and Accringtons or any club that might otherwise have been relegated. If these small clubs have managed to keep solvent, and are restricted in the funds available to pay their players by debts owed to HMRC, then it is right that Luton who are free of such historic tax debts should labour under a points handicap.

    The Hatters fans are on stronger ground when it comes to the FA deduction of points. These were offences committed by the directors of the old company. The directors of the new company were not at any fault what so ever.

    In my view the FA should have made the points deduction but directed that it should not be aggregated to the points deducted by the League, or the League should have taken into account the points deducted by the FA in determining the Hatters ‘handicap’.

    A total points deduction of 20 points would have been about right.

  • February 22, 2009 at 5:43 am

    Micky F

    F**k off Ron, your comments are about as welcome as a dose of piles!

  • February 24, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Chris Luke

    Ron, why don’t you give it a F****** rest, your commentds regarding our great club are noted on a few sites, it os even being questioned if you actually Dr Mawhinney himself trying not only justify the FL and FA decisions but also attempting to wind up REAL football supporters…
    LTFC will rise again and be as good as we have ever been . WHY ? Because now at long last we have true Hatters at the helm, not greedy a******s hell bent on shafting a great club left right and centre.

    Cummon you Hatters

  • February 24, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Ron Ipstone

    Only trying to explain why the points deduction was imposed. I am not sorry if this upsets some people.

  • February 26, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Micky F

    No you’re not Ron, you’re just trying to wind up Luton fans like you do on 606. Get a life you sad sack!

  • February 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Ron Ipstone

    It is a constant source of amazement that some Hatters are totally unprepared to allow anyone to put the other side of the argument. Unless one subscribes to the ‘Everyone in authority is out to get Luton Theory’, one is subjected to personal abuse and name calling. This does not bother me, but I wonder how it advances the case of the Hatters?

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