The club was docked 30 points at the start of the season; 10 by The Football Association for irregular matters involving player transfers, and 20 by the Football League for breaking rules on exiting administration. As a result, the club finished bottom of the league and were relegated to the Conference Premier.
But since Luton’s relegation in ’92, the team have been falling through the leagues. But now we were on a high after several successful years on the pitch. We were at a level we felt comfortable with.
We had a board which seemed to back the team and a highly-rated young manager in Mike Newell, who seemed to be one of the hottest properties around after leading Luton to the Coca-Cola League One title. We also had a good young squad of players lined with experienced player.
After a successful first year back in the Championship, it all started to go pear shaped. A few of our senior players wanted a move to bigger sides like Leeds United and Derby County—teams who seemed to be on the cusp of being promoted to the Premier League. Our manger also decided to make a few statements, which caught the national press.
The first was about corruption in the beautiful game. It was all based on how agents and managers were taking bungs and kickbacks in the transfer of players to different clubs. This helped to prompt the Lord Stephens enquiry, which after several months of investigation and millions of pounds being spent came up with no conclusions or anything they could take to the Football Association.
The second was a slightly sexiest comment about a female assistant referee claiming she was useless and the only reason she was officiating at the Luton home game was because she was female and the Football Association only appointed her as an official was out of political correctness.
By now things on the pitch weren’t looking to good. One of our players had suffered a stroke on the journey to an away game at Ipswich. Our form had curtailed dramatically, which prompted more players to consider their future with the club. This lead to a few untimely transfers on key components.
Our manager then decided to ask the board what had happened to the £13 million pounds ($24 million) raised in transfer revenues. He was promptly sacked and replaced by a highly-qualified coach Kevin Blackwell.
Fans also started to question what had happened to the funds as they had not been reinvested into the team. Various supporter groups made a requests to see the club’s books. These were released after pressure from the groups were applied.
However, the books where only brief accounts of the club’s holdings and turnover during the financial year, not the in-depth accounts which could show us the final standing of the club and how and where money was going.
This prompted the current chairmen to make a statement to say the club had been participating in payments to agents behind the manager’s back to secure the contracts of players via the club’s holding company J10. This forced the FA to start an investigation.
The results at this stage had seen Luton relegated from the Championship back to League One two years after our escape. A new buyer was found for the club and things started to look promising for next season. The new owner of the club started to attack the fans making outrageous statements about us, which didn’t go down too well.
The season hadn’t started to brightly.
The new intake of players was demoralizing to say the least as they were a mixture of veterans, journeymen, and untried lower league players. The departure of more key players hadn’t helped the situation either. We get to November and a new consortium made of fans and ex-players decided they would like to take the club forward.
The current owner David Pickney refused saying the club were in a healthy position and that they were underway with the development of a new stadium. A week later the club was put into administration.
Because of the FA’s rule on insolent clubs we where deducted 10 points and an administrator was appointed to find a buyer and help secure the club until the end of the season.
During the January transfer window the club had a fire sale, selling off as many of the assets as it could. This left the squad with a mixture of youth team players and what hadn’t been sold or loaned out. This prompted the manager to resign and be replaced with Luton legend Mick Harford.
Even with Mick’s influence the results just got worse until our relegation from Coca-Cola League One last season.
Now during this point the Fan’s consortium 2020, we’re trying to secure the long-term future of Luton Town. During the closed season the club were not able to sign any new players until the FA had ratified the take over. Now with club not holding any assets the consortium took the club about of administration via a non-voluntary agreement.
The FA then imposed a 20-point deduction to start at the beginning of the 2008/2009 season. Most Luton fans felt this was unjustified as Leeds United had followed the same path a year earlier and had only got a 15 point deduction.
Now to make matters worse the FA investigation had come to a close and they had decided that Luton were guilty of not following the correct procedures for dealing with agents and fined the club £50,000 and a 10-point deduction, which has left us staring at the abyss.
No one can understand how paying an agent via the club’s own holding company can be seen as not following procedure. All the paperwork had been ratified by all of the relevant parties, including the Football Association and the Inland Revenue. There was no attempt to avoid tax or pull the wall over anyone’s eyes.
The previous board—which had miss managed the club’s finances and left them in this god damn awful situation—received a series of bans from 1-5 years, preventing them from sitting on the board of a football club.
The club’s new owners and the fans who have done nothing wrong have been left in despair. We are currently over half way into the campaign and we have just wiped out the 30 point defecate leaving us on 2 points, 13 points behind our rivals who were also deducted 17 points for exiting administration via a non-voluntary agreement.
The club is now trying to rebuild but is being hampered by past indiscretion of previous owners. The day before the league was due to start we signed 11 new players—one being our talismanic captain Kevin Nicholls, who found after leaving Luton for Leeds a few years earlier the grass isn’t always greener.
The rest our younger players and senior pros were released at the end of their contacts. This season we could have an unprecedented third relegation.
This relegation would take Luton out of the Football League and into Non-league football for the first time in our history. Non-league football is the bottom of the football Pyramid. This is where all the much smaller, amateur, and semi-professional clubs play. They tread in the hope of one day making it to the Football League.
Next season, the Blue Square Premier could welcome a side who three years earlier played just below the Premier league. The fall from grace has been shattering for most fans as being proud creatures look towards the stars and success, even though sometimes optimistically.
Next season could see the long hard road back into the Football League battling the new financial restraints that will happen because of relegation.
But on the horizon is a Wembley date at the home of world football, after beating Brighton in the second leg of the Johnston Paint Trophy.