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Hats off to Luton after Wembley thriller

Paul Fletcher | 19:36 UK time, Sunday, 5 April 2009

Luton Town chairman Nick Owen described the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final to me as a "shining beacon".

Owen made the comment on Friday and was referring specifically to the game's context in a season that he says has been "desperately difficult" for his club.

But ultimately what happened at Wembley on Sunday stands out as a shining beacon on so many different levels.

Luton's 3-2 extra-time victory over Scunthorpe was a breathtaking encounter, worthy of any final.

To describe it as a great advert for lower division football would be nothing less than patronising. It was, quite simply, a great advert for the sport.

You could search far and wide before you stumbled across a match boasting five goals of such outstanding quality. Can you think of one?hatters595.gif

There were no scrappy finishes, lucky deflections or heart-breaking own goals in this final, just ones of a quality to savour and admire. All but one of the goals came from outside the area and all were fit to grace a Wembley final.

The pick of the bunch was probably Grant McCann's equaliser close to full-time, a sumptuous left-foot strike that Luton boss Mick Harford paid generous tribute to afterwards.

Scunthorpe, supported by 13,000 fans, played their full part in the match and might yet be back at Wembley. That is certainly the aim now for manager Nigel Adkins as his team push for promotion from League One.

Adkins spoke eloquently afterwards about the need to bottle the negative feelings in his dressing room. Some of the younger players were in tears but Adkins wants them to remember how low they felt after this defeat and channel it into making sure it does not happen the next time they are at Wembley.

But Sunday belonged to Luton Town - to the 2020 consortium that took over a club in a desperate financial situation last year, their playing and coaching staff, and the supporters who turned out in great numbers.

More than anything it was a statement made by a club - a statement that said we are survivors and here to stay.

Luton started their League Two campaign with a 30-point deduction, 10 handed down from the Football Association after they were found guilty of misconduct by paying agents via a third party and 20 from the Football League after they failed to satisfy the League's insolvency rules.

Many people I have spoken to about the 30-point penalty feel Luton have been very harshly treated - a view to which Owen fully subscribes.

"We cannot understand the severity of it," he told me. "When a club is in difficulty it seems unjust to knock them on the head with a mallet."

Others would counter that if a clubs lives beyond its means in order to try to succeed and ends up going bust then it would be unfair on the other clubs if the guilty party were not punished.

It is an issue upon which I suspect it is impossible to satisfy all parties - and complicated further when you consider that it is a new consortium at Luton that has been punished for the actions of a previous board.

It looks as though the final conclusion of the penalty will be relegation from the Football League.

Sunday might have been a triumph for Luton but results in League Two on Saturday, with Chester, Grimsby and Bournemouth all picking up points, ensured it would never be a perfect weekend.

The Hatters remain in the distressingly familiar position of last place in League Two and are 12 points from safety with six games left to play.

"At the moment our Football League status is out of our hands," said Harford. "We could win all our remaining games and still be relegated."

But in a sense this entire season has been a triumph for Luton. They only came out of administration days before it began and their first match programme of the season was full of gaps next to squad numbers. Owen said it felt like players were being introduced to each other in the tunnel before the game.

Harford slowly assembled a decent squad and has been quick to pay tribute to players who have joined his mission knowing full well they could be out of the Football League at the end of the season. That they will at least end the season as victors at Wembley is just reward and vindication for their bold decision to accept the challenge at Luton.

The points deduction remains an open and very painful wound, felt keenly by the supporters and the victory over Scunthorpe was a triumph for them as well.

They sold 40,000 tickets and had more fans inside the stadium than any other club for a final at the rebuilt Wembley. T-shirts, banners and flags left one in no doubt as to their current thoughts on the footballing authorities. My personal favourite doffed a Hatters straw boater to the club's most famous fan, Eric Morecambe. It said "Bring me sunshine, the FA never will".

And if Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney had still not grasped the depth of feeling then the booing that rebounded around Wembley as he was introduced to the teams prior to kick-off ought to have done the trick.

After the final Harford seemed to stand for so long in front of Mawhinney in the Royal Box with the trophy aloft that I almost suspected it was as though the manager was making a statement of his own. Mawhinney, ever the politician, grinned his way through it.

It felt like an afternoon rich in emotion and meaning, far beyond that which can be conjured purely as a consequence of events on the pitch. Before writing this article I looked on the 606 boards and read with interest the amount of messages of goodwill sent to Luton supporters by fans of other clubs. There was a genuine depth of feeling.

In a few weeks Luton's heroic attempt to stay in the league will be over. Owen says he is not even contemplating relegation but did state that the club's finances are now order and they would hope to keep as many players as possible to mount a serious push for an instant return.

It remains to be seen whether Luton will be allowed to defend their trophy if they do go down but that is an issue for another day.

What Sunday said was that everyone connected with Luton has the desire and determination to clear what further hurdles lie in front of them. It spoke of a club that has been battered and bruised but whose soul remains intact.

Or, to leave the last word to Owen: "It says that there are a lot of people who care about this football club. That they will not be ground into the dust by the authorities."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    WE ARE LUTON TOWN, SAY WE ARE LUTON TOWN!!


    What a great final, scunthorpe played fantasticaly well and on anotherday could have taken the trophy back to the north with them. But this cup run has had a feeling of destiny behind it and even when we went 1-0 down i knew that we would turn it around and stick 2 big fingers up at the FA.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a day, what a game and what a result. Luton Town Football Club did itself proud both on and off the pitch today and even if we are relegated the message we have sent out is that we will be back. To the owners, manager and players i send my heartfelt thanks for a memorable day. Today could be the start of the return of the good times. I am proud to be a Hatter.

  • Comment number 3.

    I really feel for Luton and the way that they have been treated by the FA and the Football League, I can only feel that the way that the lot down the road - S**thampton, are trying to worm their way out of a deserved points deduction by passing blame onto their holding company (something which I seem to recall Luton were punished for doing so)is only rubbing salt into the wounds.

    The FA and Football League have quite simply in Luton's case kicked them hard whilst they are down, yet bigger injustices are given more flexible punishments due to the stature of the clubs involved.

    I wish Luton all the best for the future, and should the inevitable happen, then they bounce straight back to where they belong - saluting Mawhinney and his posse in a Barry Ferguson and Alan McGregor esque manner.

  • Comment number 4.

    BTW anybody know how the Scunthorpe player Mirfin is, he didnt look in too good shape when he was stretchered off in extra time. Hope it wasnt anything too serious.

  • Comment number 5.

    This goes to prove that now matter what people throw at you, your day will come to show them. The players, the manager, the 2020 consortium and most importantly the Luton fans showed the FA what football means, passion for your club.
    Football isn't just about the premiership multi-millionaires; it is about every league club in this country. It is time that the FA and FL started helping clubs instead of crippling them. They say football clubs should spend within their means and yet the biggest clubs in the premiership have so much debt it is ridiculous. They speak of even playing fields and then they allow multi-billionaires bank role transfers. The FA and FL should start doing their jobs properly and check that those taking over the clubs are fit to do so and will not send these clubs into administration; instead of punishing the people who are brought in to rectify their mistakes. One day they might learn but how many clubs have to suffer until they do.

    Sorry, a bit of a rant, but it was a great day and thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Comment number 6.

    Went down there today, Luton were fantastic, thoroughly deserved the win, and the atmosphere was electric
    The sheer amount of Luton Town fans there, I didn't realise there were that many in existence!
    Scunthorpe played very well, and I do agree with the thought that this was arguably the best game played at the rebuilt Wembley
    Hit the nail on the head.. :)
    Certainly the best I've ever seen Luton play. Claude Gnapka is a legend, saw him score against Colchester at Kenilworth Road, and again today, true genius.

    To conclude then...

    Try that on for size Mawhinney

    WE ARE LUTON TOWN WE ARE LUTON TOWN!!

  • Comment number 7.

    "It is time that the FA and FL started helping clubs instead of crippling them. They say football clubs should spend within their means and yet the biggest clubs in the premiership have so much debt it is ridiculous."

    Two fantastic points there. There was a stat not that long ago that either Man Utd or 'The Big 4' have debts that total, and then exceed that of the rest of the teams in the football league.

    That's when you have to sit up and and take notice of where football has gone so wrong.

  • Comment number 8.

    First, Luton were in breach of the rules, which they knew about, and deserved their penalty points.
    However, I think the FA should think again and look at ways about helping clubs like Luton, instead of penalising them.

    On today's match.
    Luton should not have had two players on the pitch, they were an absolute disgrace.
    I'm pleased they'll be relegated and long may they live in football's lower divisions.

  • Comment number 9.

    4thecaptain, you state we were in breach of the rules, but for someone who has such condemnation it would be interesting to note whether you actually know the full, detailed, ins and outs of the situation. My guess is 'no'.

    You are about the only person in the country who also thinks we were a disgrace today. Craddock was lucky to stay on the pitch but what he did was totally out of character, and by stating that we deserve to rot in the lower divisions on that basis is utterly bitter. I bet whatever team you support have had players in similar bother, but you choose to ignore that and try and ruin other people's day. Never mind about the great football we played? Oh no, let's ignore that and be nasty about things.

    If you'd have witnessed the family, carnival atmosphere at Wembley today as I did, with both sets of fans having fun together, then you would probably refrain from such idiotic, ill-informed, childish comments. Deal with it, you hypocrite.

  • Comment number 10.

    Even if you believe Luton was dealt too harshly by the FA, not handing down a meaningful point deduction would have been seriously unfair to 23 other clubs in the division, not to mention others trying to come up. I'd take one injustice, if that, than 23 others.

    And the fact that the Top Three (excluding Arsenal, which tries so hard to live within its means its best players often leave) have too much debt only shows the FA should deal harshly with them. Giving leniency to other clubs as well would only exacerbate the problem.

    Now, congrats on the day.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    The last time Luton Town were winners at Wembley was in 1988, when i, as a young 17 year old thought i had just experienced the best day of my life....how wrong i was. Being at Wembley today, with my 11 year old son Ethan tops the 1988 win over Arsenal....Luton are so deserved of this win and trophy. For years they have had to fight against the establishment and dodgy 'owners', but today was a day for the fans, for the people for which this club means so much....the people wjo will always belive Luton Town Football Club are the greatest team in the world. Seeing 40,000+ fans for one club in Wembley stadium is not going to be beaten in a long time.....come on you Hatters!!

  • Comment number 13.

    4thecaptain:

    get a life mate maybe you should try being us. ur obv a pemiership armchair fan. It was us who busted the people on the insdide taking the bungs so we shouldnt have been punished for that. If they had congratulated us instead it might have encouraged other clubs to do the same. As foor the administration points: they desparately need to find a new system. Talk about kicking small clubs when their down :@

  • Comment number 14.

    Unfortunatly I was unable to see the game as i was back home in Australia and due to the FOXTEL and sports stations over here being ( Aussie rules and Man UTD orientated the game was ignored, Typical.
    any way,
    Point 1 It takes a man to admit he was wrong Is Mcwhinney 0r FA authorities Man / Men?
    2 , Maybe Now after the TV coverage of this game The FA Might listen to the voices of others instead of being SELF RIGHTEOUS
    3 , If Southampton dont get penalised this should leave the way for Rotherham and Luton to claim some points back,, If Not then this is OBVIOUS Double standards By the self righteous FA and FL,
    4, If this is the case then these People are Not Fit enough to Rule the FA and FL, so Change the People in Charge to those that Apply the LAW Fairly Not being Biassed against smaller clubs.
    5, Im so pleased t0 read about the Haranging that MC WHINEY received.
    6, If this situation had happened in Australia in Aussie rules you would have found 90% of the clubs would have stood up to the authorities and voiced there support for the Club, unlike it seems to some of the Premier teams who just turned aside, where there oppinion would maybe have got Luton a More fairer penalty.

    Any way to Macwhiney and his Cronies,, ( I wont Swear BUT )

    LUTON TOWN !!!! to you

  • Comment number 15.

    Congrats to Luton, that was an excellent achievement especially under present circumstances, and as a Rotherham fan, I appreciate the comment in #14.
    In light of our present position, and without the points deductions, we would be in automatic 2nd promtion spot. The season is not over yet, but do you think that Mark Robins could be considered as a candidate for D2 Manager of the season.
    I know the above is a diversion from the main thread, but once again well done Luton Town

  • Comment number 16.

    The irony is that if Luton survive it is more than likely that it will be the result of another club folding.
    What on earth is this Johnstone's Paint Trophy? Which clubs can play in it? Isn't this another case of de-valuing Wembley?
    Many top players will never get the chance to grace Wembley. It should not be used for play-offs or tin-pot finals. Neutral grounds should be used.

  • Comment number 17.

    Great day, especially for 2020 who we owe so much, as oppose to the previous boards that put the clubs existence into doubt.
    The F.A & F.L were correct to punish the club and others for what happened.

    But, they have got it so wrong, as they have punished the true football supporters as oppose to the [Business people !!!] who are the ones that made the decisions, as well as those who have now risked a lot of there own money in trying to save the club.

    It feels like coming home after being on holiday for two weeks, only to find your house robbed and smashed up. Then find the authorities come round to arrest you for the state of your house and decide to demolish it and move you to a cheaper part of town.
    If the F.A & F.L can't get it to be FAIR then I hope F.I.F.A or the government looks at it.

    The WEALTH of football success can not be left in only the top 4 or 5 clubs who have built up more debt than all the rest. SORT IT OUT.

    To Kevin, Mick and all the players and staff at the club.
    Let’s keep the Spirit alive and get us back the higher divisions of the football league by 2020.

    Thanks to you all.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Ive got a terrible hangover.

  • Comment number 20.

    The argument regarding penalising clubs in serious financial problems by a point deduction will rage on albeit for most part being partisan. It will continue because it is totally inequitable and wrong. It is a policy thought up by people with little knowledge of the day to day problems currently facing those who finance our beloved game, that said they too are their own worst enemy.

    With Mr Genius Mawhinney now admitting that several other clubs are likely to go belly up, the time as surely arrived when the policy needs a serious overhaul and indeed committed to the garbage bin.

    Whether or not all the current incumbents of all the board rooms like it or not, they are operating a Franchise, the Franchisor being the Football League. If you buy a franchise from any other company large or small there is a licence fee, a deposit to be paid by the Franchisee. Subject to contract that fee is only redeemable when the business is sold and only if the contract is run in accordance with the contract. Such a sound and sensible policy would not only give the FL more insight into the day to day operations, it would obviously allow forensic inspection much earlier, perhaps preventing maladministration and closure. Most important it would prevent the books being cooked if jointly and severally Directors could loose their deposits. New investors buying into a failed club would then start with a clean sheet.

    Will this ever happen ? I think NOT ! simply because those who would have to vote on it, the current Chairmen of 92 clubs will not wish to put their hands in their pockets and start anew. Furthermore they and the Football League are consumed with self interest rather than the well being of the game as a whole. This is fully indicated by the fact that All those clubs and new investors who have had points deducted were further penalised by Gagging Orders preventing them from taking legal action in a court of law under the restraint of trade laws. Which should tell everyone just how equitable and honest the FL and the current Chairman are.

    Good Luck Mr Owen and Luton, you were screwed and deserve better.

  • Comment number 21.

    An extraordinary day for football.

    As a resident of Southampton not allied to any particular club, I certainly feel that if the Saints can avoid a points deduction for the audacity of shifting debts to a holding company (and I gather there's precedent for such a dastardly dodge) then Luton (who as I understand it pulled a not-dissimilar trick) can definitely claim some points back (just going back to -17 will put them in the safety zone and the galvanising effect of yesterday will almost certainly do the rest).

    Alas, I do believe that points deductions are the best way of dealing with financial irregularities - it does set up a precedent of 'the harder they come, the harder they fall'. It is imperative, though, that these deductions are applied consistently and transparently across all of the leagues (including the Premier League - West Ham's non-relegation two years ago was about as ludicrous as this Luton penalty). At presently, it patently isn't, and so you can't blame Luton fans for their ill-feeling.

    Consistency in judgment is critical. I still don't entirely understand why Luton are on -30 and Bournemouth/Rotherham -17, and I'm an economics student.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a luton fan i can only bask in the glory of a cup final victory, to the players, fans and board, massive congratulations on a performance to be proud of and to Scunthorpe commiserations on losing a cracking game.

    Couple of points to take issue with posters.

    16-rudijay you dont support a team in lower leagues because the cup has been going for over 20years now, so you would know that if you did. In many ways i agree teams being run poorly should be punished, but you ask why the cup finals and semi finals and play offs and internationals are at Wembley, because the FA overspent massively on Wembley and are financially struggling.

    Its the people in charge who devalue the competition and organisations. 55000 there yesterday and we wanted another 10000 to add to the 40000 we took. We werent allowed because of segregation? How do Man Utd cope in a cup game then? 10000 away fans in 75000, they are segragated by police/stewards its only that the FA cant organise anything. So the fa missed out on £300'000 in revenue so who is being run poorly?

    Any up the Hatters, the conference may await, but that will be another adventure.

  • Comment number 23.

    A couple of quick points:

    - Well done Luton, fantastic game and a fantastic result

    - I don't know the full story as to why the FA and FL punishments totalled 30 points, but on the face of it, it seems harsh

    - But punishements for financial mismanagement are necessary, and were put in place after Leicester built a new ground, were relegated, and subsequently financially overstretched. They went into administration, paid a few pence in the pound (except to football debtors who must be paid in full iaw FA rules), kept their strong squad and immediately got promoted back to the top flight with a goodish squad, and a new 32,000 stadium. It is right that clubs do suffer in these circumstances. What is now needed is some way to control debt, and bring in line the premier league clubs and efectively make it a more level playing field.

    Again well done Luton - A real fairy tale

  • Comment number 24.

    luton sold 40,000 tickets? woah. those same people should go be going to all the home matches too, maybe the club wouldnt be in the trouble it is now if they had been supporting like that the past few years.

  • Comment number 25.

    As said by #23, the reason for the 10 point deduction was to stop the 'convenient administration' way of avoiding paying large debts and still benefitting on the field, and this has essentially worked. If Luton, Rotherham, Bournemouth, and Leeds last year, had been deducted 10 that would seem reasonable as that is the rule. BUT all the above got deducted considerably more than 10, from 15 to 30 (you could argue that Leeds got 25 as they had 10 the previous year as well). Deductions at that level have too large an effect on promotion/relegation as any side (Rotherham) who avoids relegation to get mid table is actually missing out on a possible promotion, while any team that would have been mid table goes down. One way or another points at this level are effectively a relegation, unless the side would have gone down anyway.

    This is too much of a punishment. 10 points was a proper response to Leicester spotting a loophole. Anything beyond that should be financial and aimed at the owners who went bust, not the new guys trying to pick up the pieces.

    Oh, and well done Luton, great game, great atmosphere.

  • Comment number 26.

    As a Brighton supporter I was initially very disappointed to lose the semi final to Luton of course, but on reflection I have never felt so happy to watch my team lose. Surely nobody who follows the game (apologies to Scunthorpe supporters) can begrudge Luton this win. I like to see it as a symbolic victory for all supporters and honest investors in the small teams, who are unlikely to ever watch their side play in the Premiership and without whom the lower leagues would die. So anyone thinking "I don't think I'll bother going along next season". Think again, miracles do happen and your club needs you (and you'd miss it if it wasn't there). Personally, I hope Luton see a second miracle in May and manage to hang on to their league status.
    Well done on Sunday, you give us all hope!

  • Comment number 27.

    You should get your facts correct, Bristol Rovers took 43,000 to the playoff final 2 years ago.

    But well done Luton for yesterday and enjoy your season in the conference, it is not that bad.

  • Comment number 28.

    Never even heard of the trophy! But I am clearly in a minority... well done Luton, hope you stay up....

  • Comment number 29.

    Well done Luton, I hope you now go on to survive league 2.

    I worked as a steward for Wrexham whilst I was in uni and they were hit hard with 10 point deduction. One of the most memorable days I had was when you were promoted at the racecourse.
    I was covered with champagne and had a right laugh with your lot.

    Hope you make it out of the relegation Zone. If not, maybe see you at the racecourse again.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have absolutely no problem with severe penalties being applied in the case of serious financial irregularities and there is no doubt whatsoever that for a number of years the books were cooked at Luton Town.

    My point is that by levying a financial Bond/Deposit for the privilege of being a member of the Football League or indeed the Premier League, it would act as a deterrent to those who were tempted to act unlawfully under the contract. The points deduction merely encourages those currently in charge to cheat because they can simply walk away, call the administrator and cut their losses, knowing full well that those who attempt to rescue the club will be punished and not them. That cannot be right or proper, in fact it's just plain stupid. If the cheats knew they could loose their shirt they would be far less inclined to break the contract. Point deductions do not achieve anything and are totally counter productive, they merely hurt new and desperately needed investors, not to mention those paying admission.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done luton.

    It's a disgrace the way you have been treated and i hope you all enjoyed your day out a wembley.

    Hope you make a swift return to the league if you go down.

  • Comment number 32.

    Luton deserve their punishments, they tried spending money that they didn't have and it backfired. So why does everyone feel sorry for them?

  • Comment number 33.

    #24 - lazy blogging. How big is the ground? Do some research first into how our problems came about, then we can discuss properly.

    #26 - Muppet. Tell me then, you are now the Football League. What punishment, if any, will you dish out to Southampton? Have they broken the rules? If so, which ones? Who do you punish - the fans, the players, the Board? I am interested to find out from someone who obviously knows so much what should happen.

    Well done lads, all Luton fans are so proud of you. Up the Hatters!

  • Comment number 34.

    Just to clear things up:
    Luton were deducted 10 points for going into administration at the end of last season, effectively relegating us from league 1.

    At the beginning of this season we were deducted 15 points for failing to agree a fee with all debtors in order to pay off the debts, this is largely due to the fact that the treasury will no longer accept any such deals. (the same thing happened to Rotherham)

    Luton were then deducted a further 5 points because they had been in administration previously within the last 5 years.

    We were then found guilty of financial irregularities when paying agents (note - Not bungs) and deducted another 10 points.

    Almost all the blame lies with the previous board, who were punished with a ban from football for two years, with the FA instead choosing to punish the fans rather than the culprits


    On the plus side fantastic game yesterday and brilliant result, if the lads carry that performance into the rest of the seasons and Grimsby and Chester continue the form they've had for most of the season then we have every chance of staying up, the great escape is still on.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well done Luton I am a Scunthorpe fan who enjoyed the day - a good game and you deserved your win. Good goals and how football should be without the need of the big clubs. Its nice to see a team roll its sleave's up and get stuck in. I only hope the FA were watching as its clubs like Luton and Scunthorpe who are the backbone of the league system - not the Liverpool's Man Us' etc. Lets go back to honest good football with teams that care and sportsmanship. Remove the foreign influence and the money and it improves.

  • Comment number 36.

    #34 has summarized the situation quite well. It seems the football league sees punishing new owners and fans for old regimes financial mistakes. It's happened to many clubs now.

    It's ironic that the people who make these mistakes can come back into football with minimal penalties, yes the mess they leave takes years of hard work to clean up.

    Publicity Pete was on the radio the other day giving it loads about someone throwing a coin at Cardiff. Even though this is disgraceful behaviour, the mere fact that this guy is allow to be chairman of another football club, while the club he leaves in a mess is still trying to recover.

    The Football league should punish the culprits, not players and fans.

    Well done Luton Town and good luck with next season.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Whilst I agree in principle with antiblazer I don't see how it would work in practice. A £1m bond/deposit for Chelsea or Man. City would be peanuts but for Hull or Stoke it would (I am guessing) be much more significant.
    Like others I have no knowledge of just why Luton were so severely punished and they do have my sympathies but I do not buy into the argument that "It was the previous lot that did it, leave us alone."
    I did not see the game in question, I do not subscribe to these parasite companies and I regret that in the sense it sounds like it was a cracking match, but frankly I don't really care. Football sold itself to the highest bidder and as I grow older and wearier I care less and less.

  • Comment number 39.

    As I mentioned in the blog, the points deduction created some very strong feelings that are unlikely to go away. It is an issue that divides opinion, with many certain the punishment was too severe.

    However, how many people still think Luton can stay up?

    And what impact would relegation have on the club? If nothing else, what Sunday said to me was that Luton will survive dropping out for the League.

  • Comment number 40.

    #34. Summarises well, but misses the point of the deduction entirely. The FA aren't "punishing fans" with point deductions, they are ensuring that teams who break the rules are not allowed to compete with the rest of teams who do not on an even keel - it is an attempt at justice, as in every other area of law.

    If you look at it another way, if Luton, Bournemouth, Darlington, Rotherham etc etc hadn't have had those deductions, that would just encourage other clubs to over-spend and penalise teams who are willing to play by the rules. As a follower of one of these teams who play by the rules, I would be disgusted if a team were allowed to spend without consequence.

    I find all this talk of "punishing fans" quite pathetic really - Luton Town have won a trophy at Wembley this season and had a comparatively successful year in terms of results. Next year they will be heavy favourites for promotion - hardly a "punishing" season is it? Does it really matter so much what league you are in?

    http://theresalwaysnextyear.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/insolvent-abuse/

  • Comment number 41.

    What a lot of uninformed people dont realise about the situation is that it wasnt just Luton spending beyond their means, it was very questionable people removing money from the club and profiting from it.

  • Comment number 42.

    As a Luton fan I would support the comments that the 20 point deduction for repeat administration could be justifiable. So,

    all you fans attacking those (including many non Hatters fans) who say the points deduction is unfair - you can have your way on the 20 points. OK?
    - its the extra ten ADDED to the existing 20 that gets every Luton fan truly angry - because the crime was in no way one of cheating to gain advantage (like Leicester did) in fact the whistleblower was a current worker who needn't have said a thing (some will say she shouldn't have!) but the point is that any future whistleblowing on similar minor misdemeanors has been well and truly scuppered - the whistleblower has seen the result of the action and it is to put their own job at risk with the villain (ex chair) getting away scot free...

    IF the FA had thought harder about the whole league and what it should have done, it would have stated there should be a 10 point penalty for these irregularities and this will be concurrent with the existing penalty in Luton's case, due partly to the fact that their own employee brought it to their attention
    the league would have remained a challenge but that challenge is us on -20 then, two points from safety now...we could live with that.

    How is it possible for the FA/league to hold their heads up and still believe they should not be booed out of the game when the injustice has been made so manifestly clear by supporters of over seventy clubs? - those who made this ludicrous decision should resign.

    ...and any forum where Luton are mentioned is fair game for these comments due to there being so few places where fans can get any real redress.

  • Comment number 43.

    Offpat's covered our issue with the points deduction pretty effectively. The -20, we'd have accepted (with a bit of grumbling, granted, but who wouldn't?), but the additional -10 for using the wrong bank account for legitimate transactions is what we feel so strongly about. That's hardly the biggest offence football has ever seen (especially when we consider what happens to Prem clubs - remember the Stevens inquiry, that found clubs had made illegal payments? What ever happened there?), and given that it was our own employee who alerted the authorities, we rather foolishly believed that they'd realise we (the fans, staff, manager and players - everyone but the board) wanted to keep our own house in order, and would account for that when deciding the punishment.

    But then that's probably far too logical a thought for the FA/FL to appreciate.

    As for the game yesterday - what a match, what a result, what a night. Surely the high point of my memories of Luton (given that I was only 3yrs old in '88!), and hopefully the beginning of a successful era.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm sorry but I will be glad to see Luton go out the League. Remember they ruined a great day out for the Arsenal fans when they won the Laegue Cup in 1988 and I haven't let that go. York City and Wrexham paid a similar price for upsetting Arsenal. So you can argue about the points but at the end of the day, are you reaping what you sowed?

  • Comment number 45.

    "So you can argue about the points but at the end of the day, are you reaping what you sowed?"

    Given that probably the biggest factor in our administration was the £9m that "somehow disappeared" from the club's books, I'm not sure we are reaping what we sowed...

  • Comment number 46.

    Wow Must be really exciting for Luton fans to win the Mickey Mouse Cup, really makes the season exciting considering they'll be in playing NON LEAGUE next season...hahahahahahaha
    The club must be so proud of those die-hard 40,000 fans that showed their support at Wembley, erm more like the glory hunters who only cared about a day out at wembley, hence why Luton's average gate is between 5,000-6,000, WOW really shows they true nature of the fans!!!
    Lets all laugh at Luton, Lets all laugh at Luton ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha

  • Comment number 47.

    As luton fans we know that neko, but unfortunatly there are some uninformed fools out there who pass judgement without bothering to find out the facts behind our situation.


    As for the Scumford fan, considering your average home gate is only 14000 when you are in the championship and we are bottom of the football league i dont think you can comment on the lack of loyal fans we have.

  • Comment number 48.

    The lack of natural justice in Luton's case defies belief. Is there not a barrister out there who supports Luton and would undertake pro bono work to set matters right? Remember that :

    1.West Ham stayed up due to a player (Tevez) they did not even own - any points deduction? Of course not, a Premiership team.

    2. The FL committee which decided Luton's punishment contained 2 chairmen of clubs in League 2. Conflict of interest?

    3. Luton's own employees (Newberry and Newell) informed the FL of the wrongdoing by the previous management. Did the FL give credit for this? Even a suspended sentence of a points deduction might just have been fairer.

    4. Southampton go into administration, but because a holding company is involved, no points deduction.

    Luton have been hammered because they are not a PL club.

  • Comment number 49.

    In response to MadMancHatter, our average gate may be quite low for our level at around 14,000, yet thats still 9,000 more than you get, so your argument is pretty poor...ironically just like your team!!

  • Comment number 50.

    Saints fan here in peace. Not least because my best mate is a Hatter and I was at Wembley with the other 39,999 and loved every minute of your cracking win in a cracking game. Ok so I am not a proper Hatter of course but this was my third "away" match this season and Luton are my 2nd favourite team. I booed Lord Whinney the Poo as loud as anyone because I know how badly treated you have been.

    Obviously as a Southampton fan I dont want us to suffer any points deduction. But then given our on pitch performances these may be irrelevant anyway - our kids are just not good enough. I know others think we may "get away with it" but I agree with those who say that the 10 points were introduced after Leicester's actions. But they are a sledgehammer approach and do not differentiate for your situation or Saints, or many many others. If the mantra "dont kick a club when its down" is right, then there has to be another way. We have had scandalous bad management as you did - the people responsible will walk away and move on, but the fans suffer for years to come. That cannot be right. If we go down so be it. If we die, it will be a price too high

    Anyway best of luck for the future. I was proud to be a guest on Sunday and your spirit will never be crushed.

  • Comment number 51.

    46 .GloryHornetLad you can laugh all you want at us winning a 'mickey mouse cup' but if your competing in a competition and you have a chance of winning it why shouldn't you? Just by reaching the final we have had a major boost financially and maybe winning on such a stage can push us on to win our remaining games!
    Granted the 40,000 fans dont come and watch every week but they've put there hand in there pocket an paid to come and watch us play so why should we hold it against them (and where did this die hard fans bit come from!) All the Town fans got to go to one of the worlds best stadiums and witness there team win one of the best games a lot of people have seen in a long time!

    16. rudijay you say Wembley should not be used for play-offs an cup finals then whats the point in having it as a stadium! Play a few England games there every year and the rest of the time its un-used! Knowing that you can play at Wembley if you reach a final is one of the highlights of these competitions (as many lower league players wouldnt get to any other way) and to move it to a neutral ground would be wrong!

    Finally would just like to say well done to the all the Luton players, staff and fans! a brilliant day and one that wont be forgotten! also well played Scunny, your equalising goal was top notch! Good luck in the playoffs!

  • Comment number 52.

    In response to Hattersboi86, in fairness your argument is justified, to be honest if we were in your position id be ecstatic at getting to see Watford at Wembley & even if it was the Johnstone's Paint Trophy i would in fact still see it as a trophy either way.....Still though it seems annoying to see 40,000 fans from Luton, or any lower league team for that matter, cheer ecstatically in the big games such as this one at Wembley, but then they dont care about the so called'smaller' games in the league on a tuesday night for example & thats where the general discontent from me comes in on a usual scale!!
    I always moan at my mates who support the likes of Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal & Liverpool, but very few go to any games so they can tell me my team is crap for being in the Championship but whats the enjoyment of being an armchair fan!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Congatulations to the Hatters from an AFC Bournemouth fan. I hope you can still stay up but not at our expense.

    I agree with a number of posters that it's the fans and new owners that have been punished by these point deductions.

    We have been deducted 27 points in two years. The FL seem to be making these deductions up as they go along and like Luton and Rotherham I understand a League 2 chairman voted penalties against us.Conflict of interest? Ok so 10 points for not agreeing a CVA but the other 7 points was a joke.

    In our case the ten point deduction last year saw us go from mid table to relegation.

    Our only other Administration was over 10 years ago when we ended up with a CVA which was crippling on the new regime but in the end was actually repaid.

    With a debt of £900k+ owed to HMRC and with their policy of voting against a CVA when we went into Admin last year it was a foregone conclusion that we wouldn't have agreement by the creditors. This was magnified by another £1m of creditors abstaining. Although a CVA of 10p in the £ dividend was voted out ironically this is what the Administrator agreed on.

    Another issue was that AFCB owed money to 26 football clubs and the Football League. The Football League advocate that creditors must agree a CVA. Guess what the Football League never voted/abstained as did 23 of the other clubs. Only 3 voted in favour.

    So this shows that Mawhinney and his cohorts are hipocrites.

  • Comment number 54.

    Well done to both Luton and Scunthorpe - as a neutral I was hooked from start to finish. It was a great game of football and I am not ashamed to admit I cried at the final whistle! As a LUFC fan, who was at Wembley for last season's play-off final and left feeling gutted, I was also pleased that the Hatters kept up the tradition of booing the #### that is Mawhinney!!

  • Comment number 55.

    just to add,
    nice to see an Arsenal fan still hurting over his side's deserved defeat in 88 - sweetness of those memories has just been enhanced they were arrogant then, and we haven't really succeeded in removing that arrogance - but that day 100% genuine local fans won over the big club's mix of real and success picking arm chair gooners.
    The premier league needs its Hulls to beat Arsenal at home more often - to remind them that English clubs with youth schemes must be allowed to out compete the big money bullies (of which Arsenal are only about fifth worst offenders I admit)

    maybe we can bounce back from the Blue Square, Paul, but The FA should not be allowed to bounce back to its agenda of over-punishment that wounds small club football - if they have any guts lets see them take on the serious debtors in the Premier...

  • Comment number 56.

    PPATAS., Excellent comment, however with regard to natural justice and finding a benevolent QC to conduct a legal action on their behalf. I think you will find that in agreeing the new owners and allowing them to invest and begin operating the offending clubs, the Football League insisted upon a Gagging Order preventing the new Directors from taking any such action. That restraint alone is an indication of how weak in law the penalties are and how undemocratic the FL is. No organisation should be above the law of the land, the FL obviously and quite wrongly consider themselves to be supreme in all matters appertaining to common justice. They are morally bankrupt and arrogant.

    If Luton Town drop out which sadly is now likely, the situation may change. When no longer under the control of the FL they may feel they have little to loose but to instigate legal proceedings for restraint of trade and damages therein caused. The Gagging Order alone may be enough to upset a High Court Judge. In the event of legal proceedings Mawhinney should resign. This is not just about the survival of a Football Club, it is about the law and equitable justice to which we all have a common right.

    Oh! and Gloryhornetlad, There but for the grace of Elton go You !

  • Comment number 57.

    As a Watford fan I would like to wish you luck for the coming seasons. I don't want to see you get relegated, although I think it is unfortunately inevitable. I would much rather be playing you on a regular basis in the league, than spending each season hoping for a cup draw!
    Hopefully this Wembley win, albeit in a minor competition, will be the beginning of the end of your troubles. Best wishes.

  • Comment number 58.

    Brilliant result for us at the weekend which we deserved more than anyone.
    We've had money problems for a fair few seasons now and the only support we get are minus points :| It was such a good feeling booing Mawhinney at the weekend and although, (i still hope we won't) it is likely we will go down, we will bounce back. We aren't going to die. Ever.
    And to all those who think we deserve it... Why should we be punished for the likes of Bill Tomlins who are no longer at the club? It's not like we gained anything... The bigger clubs have been forever stealing our young talent simply because we dont have the money (nor the support from the FA!) to keep them.

  • Comment number 59.

    Oh what a day !!!!

    Unbelievable atmosphere, excellent game, what a result...

    Will we stay up... I doubt it, but we have gone down kicking a screaming and making as much noise as we can. all we can do it get behind the lads for the last 6 games and hope things go our way.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ rudijay

    So in theory if two lower league teams made it all the way through the FA cup to the final, they should find somewhere else to play other than Wembley on the basis that some "top players will never get the chance to grace Wembley"?

    Rubbish.

    YOU might think they are tin-pot trophies, but that's not how the players and fans of the lower league teams see it. They give it their all and put in just as much effort, if not more than the likes of Man U. to get to the final of whatever trophy it is.

    The support for Luton at the weekend was mind-blowing and way greater than any support I have seen for the bigger teams at Wembley. Those fans stood proud and were graced with entertainment from both teams that put premiership sides who have played at Wembley in recent cup finals to shame.

    Wembley should stand for achievement and used for players who have shown dedication to get to a final WHATEVER the trophy/cup/medal/rosette/badge might be. It should NOT be used for which team has the most wealthy chairman so can afford to buy the best players.

    Luton, players and fans, you are wonderful for everything you have had to put up with over the last few years. The dedication and support you have shown in spite of the ridiculous punishments you have received should be a lesson to us all.

    See you at the Ricoh Arena in the Championship in 4 years :D

  • Comment number 61.

    At halftime in the Johnstones Paint final on Sunday there was a parade of 11 year old boys from Luton Town who won the youth European Championship this year. If you didnt know, two clubs were entered by the FA - Luton Town and Manchester United. Man U were knocked out - Luton went on to beat Bayern Munich in the final. The senior age groups also did very well. Years down the line those kids will remember their experience at Wembley and will grow up to be the next generation of England players.
    That is what Luton Town is about - its a club with strong links to the community, the very soul of football. The sort of team we should all be supporting instead of paying inflated prices to watch overpaid mercenaries in the top league.
    It was a great game with a great result. Well done the Hatters - and Scunthorpe - good luck with the playoffs.

  • Comment number 62.

    Well done LUTON. Supporters and all Luton family deserved this joy and hapiness.I am a Wolves fan and supporting also Exeter city.I had a very pleasant experience lately visiting your town where peoples hospitality was superb.I totally support you in this very harsh treatment of the point deduction.Totally unfair as it touches thousands of people.I wish you a way out soon of this situation.Well done again.Felt same in last years advance of Exeter city in Wembley. Mario Athens Greece

  • Comment number 63.

    well done luton. without anything against the other teams at wrong end of l2 I hope you stay up. did not deserve such a heavy fine in points. I thought our deduction of -15 was rough but -30 not fair at all. well done again

  • Comment number 64.

    What a great game to grace any final at wembley (be it amateurs playing in the Vase or professionals in the FA cup!) between two totally committed teams....and great goals....well done to both teams.

    Taking all that has been said about the the pro's and cons of points deductions, it will not change the situation for our beloved ltfc this season...basically it appears that we will be in Conference next season.
    It's likely we will favourites to gain automatic promotion, although as many other ex-league teams have found....it is not a god-given right!!..and the other 23 teams will also feel they have as much chance.

    What does concern me is Mawhinney (an elephant never forgets....boos in particular) and his FA & FL mates will meet in the close season and introduce new guidelines for FL ground requirements. Surprise, surprise.....Luton Town's antiquated Kenilworth Road stadium dose not meet the new requirements!! Surely they wouldn't...would they???

    Congratulations to Mick and the team for a great memory on Sunday...all the best to Scunthorpe in the play-offs.

  • Comment number 65.

    What Luton have done here is a fantastic advert for football at any level. To stay the course in a season where they were (IMHO) punished unfairly by the FA is a testimony to their players, staff and above all else their fans.

    Whatever club you support you can only be impressed with this display of grit & determinaton. Well done, Luton.....well done.

  • Comment number 66.

    #56 Antiblazer
    Is it Just Possible that A QC could take Luton Towns case up on HIS Own back? therefore It would not be held accountable to Luton,
    maybe there is someone out there that would do that, ( HOPE springs eternal )charges against FA & FL victimisation and Equal rights , southampton )
    another point of interest, Brendan Guilifoyle and his Cronies charged Luton A Huge sum of Money for selling of Luton players and bringing them out of Administration, Luton could have done all that themselves but were prevented from doing so., What Irks me is that MR Guilifoyle had the audacity to ask Liverpool for there share of the gate money when they played Luton and Liverpool refused, Mr Guilifoyle therfore should have Returned the Money he charged back to LUTON, But NO another Vulture.

    However Maybe just maybe these authorities of Fooltball might do some thinking and change the rules and if Luton are the Last team to be relegated through there( Fa & FL )s Pride and injustice and they do change rules because of lutons stance at wembley then at least some good will have come from it
    And to Luton, And Scunthorpe, superb game a credit to Football as it should be,,and to mr Mcwhiney LOOK AND LEARN And Read the Banners, IF you can , Maybe you will wake Up.

  • Comment number 67.

    Aussielutonfan, Another great point on the matter of clubs going belly up, "The Administrators". Money which should be staying in the game is being ripped off by these vultures. Many players who are now in the higher divisions and earning in excess of a million pounds a year have been sold during administration for a pittance, the main benefactor being the likes of West Ham, who themselves become vultures. I refer to Reo Coker as an example, literally given away during the Wimbledon/MK Dons administration, as were almost the whole team.

    It is yet another indication that the FL could and should be doing more to prevent such loses to clubs in trouble. It cannot be beyond the infantile brains at the FL to come up with a more radical approach. The whole concept of the Franchise needs a complete overhaul, they ignore it at a cost to the professional game as a whole. The Southampton Saga will be very interesting as to the future policy, what's the betting on a Snow Job !

  • Comment number 68.

    You know what, hats off to luton i think the game was amazing made better by Scunthorpes 2nd goal, i do however find it quite bizarre that no action seems to be being taken against your 2nd goal scorer hitting our defender just before the interval and i still do not see which part of the right "chest" your first goalscorer could have possibly controlled the ball with so well, but all were good goals and we were unlucky to concede the 3rd well done luton.

  • Comment number 69.

    Qslounge thankyou for your kind wishes!(from a watford fan)
    we to will miss our clashes as i have done for a few years....perhaps the fa cup next season?....when we can commit a giant killing!
    fantastic game on sunday and a great advert for lower league football.
    if southampton get away without a points deduction then luton,leeds,bournemouth,rotherham and darlington could sue the football league.
    what people are overlooking is that luton actually have had 40 points deducted when you include the 10 from last season.this should have been taken into account when the 30point punishment was handed down.
    we will bounce back and just think of all the local derbies we will have next year...stevenage,oxford,cambridge,rushden,kettering,histon.
    the good times are coming back to the kenny!

  • Comment number 70.

    A link for any football fan who wants to understand a bit better what has happened to the club that us hatters love over the past few years.

    http://new.talksport.net/mediaplayer/media_player.asp?id=106314&c=&t=&rssPodcast=&podcastid=&mediaType=1

  • Comment number 71.

    "Rudijay"

    Why shouldn't smaller times have the time to shine?

    It seems you would be a fan of a Championship team, maybe poor Premiership. Teams such as those get given £30 million in TV rights by the powers that be, so we can see them being destroyed by a bigger club.
    Wembley is the national stadium, and the FL Trophy is important to teams who struggle to stay afloat. The win for Luton, and any royalties they receive will be of utmost importance to their survival as a football club at all.

    And to your comment about how many players won't get to run out under the arch at Wembley or whatever. Tough. Life isn't fair. They haven't earned the right to do it. I very much doubt I will ever see Luton Town at Wembley again, but the FL Trophy final was a game for the fans. I wouldn't want to see them play at the Ricoh Arena or somewhere like that. There is no significance.

    So grow a pair, and let the smaller teams have their time.

    drewjoy123

  • Comment number 72.

    After everything the club has been through, this is the least they deserve. Well done Luton Town!

  • Comment number 73.

    A great day for Luton Town, their players, fans and new management deserve all the credit in the world.

    However I felt the booing of Mahwinney was rather callous and uncalled for. The club were dealt with fairly and teh punishment must be applied, if it were not then other clubs would be willing to break the same rules and then point at Luton's escape as a precedent. That could not be allowed to happen.

    Fair cop to Luton and their fans, most of them have taken it with a realism and good grace. The trick for them will be how many of those 40,000 are willing to put their hands in their pockets for games against Eastbourne, Barrow and Forest Green next season. If they can maintain a decent crowd then that will help them maintain a good team and hopefully bounce back straight away.

  • Comment number 74.

    They deserved the JPT win but must say they also deserved the 30 point deduction - after all it was the 3rd Administration in 10 years !!

 

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