Luton case highlights need for change
To people of a certain age, the memory of David Pleat charging across Maine Road delirious with joy while wearing a beige suit that belonged firmly in 1983 cannot fail to induce a wry smile.
And who could blame him? Raddy Antic had scored a late goal to secure the Hatters' top-flight survival and send Man City down.
The 1980s was a great decade for the Kenilworth Road outfit. Luton, part of the plastic pitch brigade, spent 10 seasons in the old First Division after winning promotion in 1982.
In 1988 they won the League Cup and lost in the final of the long forgotten Simod Cup the same year. The following season they reached the League Cup final again but lost out to Nottingham Forest. Had it not been for Heysel they would have played in Europe.
Fast forward to the present day and the club now face a major fight for their Football League survival.
After being docked 20 points by the Football League last week in addition to an earlier 10 points by the Football Association, the Hatters will start the season with minus 30 points.
All this has happened against a background of a takeover at the club, led by broadcaster Nick Owen, who has described the latest penalty as "being flattened by a mallett" and a "kick in the face".
Owen is a member of the Luton Town Football Club Ltd 2020 consortium - a consortium that is paying a heavy price for the indiscretions and mismanagement of the club's previous owners.
The 10-point penalty came after the club approached the FA once it realised rules regarding transfers had been broken. An appeal will take place on Tuesday.
The 20-point penalty is a result of Luton failing to comply with the Football League's rules regarding a club coming out of administration.
The Football League insists the club must pay in full its 'football creditors' and agree a Company Voluntary Agreement with 75% of its creditors. But Luton were unable to satisfy the second part.
Who were the only creditors who failed to agree a CVA with Luton? Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. Why? HMRC has now decided against agreeing a CVA with clubs in administration, presumably because they are not happy with the fact that 'football creditors' - principally players - are paid in full, while they, often the largest single creditor, are offered much less. And in those terms who can blame them?
So Luton have been hit with the 20-point penalty and have no right of appeal against this latest deduction.
It is a messy and regrettable situation.
Yes, the Football League is surely right to punish clubs who have been mismanaged, gone bust and then reformed without paying any penalty for living beyond their means and, therefore, enjoying an unfair financial advantage.
But it is the new consortium at Luton which is now picking up the pieces of poor decisions made before their arrival.
Owen is adamant the new consortium is working incredibly hard to stabilise and save the club - hence his assertion that the latest penalty is a "kick in the teeth".
And if HMRC is going to stick to its current policy then surely the Football League needs to have a long hard look at its rules or we face the prospect of every season starting with a cockeyed league table.
Leeds United started last season in League One minus 15 points and the notion that a new campaign begins with all clubs equal is fast being consigned to the dustbin of history.
And how totally stupid is it to have a club so heavily handicapped from the start of the season that they are almost doomed before they have even kicked a ball?
Last season 43 points would have guaranteed you survival in League Two. To reach that mark Luton obviously need to acquire 73 points - a total that would have seen them just miss out of a play-off spot last season.
In other words, a team that has lost plenty of players after relegation last season must have a cracking campaign to stand a chance.
Yet all is not yet lost for Luton.
Manager Mick Harford has pledged to stay at the club and the Football League rules that have so damaged the Hatters might yet drag other clubs into the mire.
Bournemouth and Rotherham face Football League hearings after falling into administration last season and are also likely to be docked points.
They might not receive as harsh a deduction as Luton but only two teams are relegated from League Two.
And with three likely to start firmly in the red we might just see a mini-league of its own right at the bottom of the Football League.
And is that good for football?