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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 08:41 GMT
Cup brings little cheer for Luton
By Chris Bevan

Luton manager Kevin Blackwell
There have been one or two players' wives crying on the phone to me. They are worried about when they will get paid and how they will pay their mortgages

Luton boss Kevin Blackwell
Whatever happens in Sunday's FA Cup third round tie against Liverpool, Luton manager Kevin Blackwell knows he has bigger battles ahead.

A turbulent end to 2007 saw the League One club charged by the Football Association for making irregular payments, placed into administration, docked 10 points and put up for sale.

Blackwell and his players were not paid in November, and received only 50% of their wages in December.

He faces seeing his star men leave for cut-price fees in the January transfer window, has already lost those who were at Kenilworth Road on loan and a transfer embargo means he is also unable to add to his squad.

All in all, not the best way to prepare for the visit of Rafa Benitez's team of international superstars - but even now, Blackwell has more important issues on his mind.

"I can't even look to the end of the week at the moment, " Blackwell told BBC Sport. "Something different happens every day and it is never good news - always bad.

"There have been one or two players' wives crying on the phone to me. They are worried about when they will get paid and how they will pay their mortgages.

"It's a poignant time of the year for it to happen around Christmas. There are so many things that happen to a footballer. Everybody sees the big clubs and thinks that it is glamorous but right now, I can tell you, there is no glamour at Luton Town.

"We have all been issued with termination notices. Our jobs will be in place until someone decides that we are no longer required. If a new man comes in he might want his own people so it is a very uncertain time.

Steve Robinson celebrates putting Luton 2-1 up in their epic 2006 FA Cup tie against Liverpool
Luton pushed Liverpool all the way in their epic 2006 FA Cup tie

"And there is a real danger that the club might not be in existence in February or March. If we can't get a bidder who will come in and take the club on and take the debts on then there is only one outcome."

The final deadline for prospective purchasers is 1700 GMT on Monday.

So Luton will face the Reds not knowing what the future holds but at least Blackwell's men have less to worry about on the pitch, where their form is actually encouraging.

An unbeaten festive period saw them collect 10 points from four games to climb away from the League One relegation zone and Blackwell says his players have been 'magnificent'.

"They have just got on with things and have worked exceptionally hard," he explained. "I just hope they get some reward somewhere along the line."

A cup tie against Liverpool is not a bad place to start.

No Hatters fan will have forgotten the Reds' last visit - a memorable FA Cup third round tie in 2006 that saw the Merseysiders triumph 5-3.

Unsurprisingly, Blackwell points to economics before he talks about a chance of an upset this time around, but it would be unwise to assume a stroll for Gerrard and co.

"The win over Nottingham Forest in the second round to set this up was massive for us because it meant the players got some percentage of their wages," Blackwell said.

"But people forget that we have already had a fantastic cup run in the Carling Cup this season - the best in the lower two divisions.

"We beat Sunderland and Charlton and, if it wasn't for a last-gasp Tim Cahill goal we would have taken Everton to penalties in the fifth round and could have been in the quarter-finals.

"Now we are on a good FA Cup run as well and, if it hadn't been for the points deduction, we would be sitting six points off the play-offs with a game in hand.

Luton manager Kevin Blackwell
I feel so let down by Luton. When I took charge here in March, I wasn't told where the club actually was. What I was told was economical with the truth to say the least

Kevin Blackwell

"It is so disheartening when you look at the league table and those points we have earned have been wiped off but there is nothing we can do about it.

"If you look at it, we have had a decent season but everything has been completely smashed down and it doesn't feel like it at the moment."

It is fair to say Blackwell had big plans for his hometown team when he took charge in March.

A new training complex was built and a new youth policy put in place. But not for long.

"Before Christmas I had to sack all my scouts and lost some of my staff," Blackwell revealed. "All the things this club needed not only to survive but to move forward have been taken away."

It is not the first time Blackwell's feet have been whipped from beneath him.

Four months after taking Leeds United to the 2006 Championship play-off final he was sacked by chairman Ken Bates.

"I don't think I have had any breaks in football in the last few months," the 49-year-old added. "All I have had is bad luck.

"I feel so let down by Luton. When I took charge here in March, I wasn't told where the club actually was. What I was told was economical with the truth to say the least.

"What has happened has shattered every plan I have had for this club and I feel bitterly disappointed.

"I know we have got to be punished. The club has broken the rules and I accept that.

"But I also find it very hard to accept that we are getting no help from the Football League with us losing our loan players and that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

"We are in administration and I daren't go and ask to sign anyone but I thought I could at least keep the ones I had got - they said I couldn't.

"I thought the Football League had spoken about a family of football and trying to help when a family member is in trouble but at the moment all I see is them kicking us when we are down."

SEE ALSO
Luton deny player clear-out talk
20 Dec 07 |  Luton Town
Timetable set for Luton Town sale
13 Dec 07 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Port Vale 1-2 Luton
29 Dec 07 |  League One
Forest plot swoop for Luton star
18 Dec 07 |  Nottm Forest
Luton look for help from players
01 Dec 07 |  Luton Town
Luton suffer 10-point deduction
22 Nov 07 |  Luton Town
Pair step down from Luton board
21 Nov 07 |  Luton Town
Luton and agents hit with charges
15 Nov 07 |  Luton Town
Luton 0-1 Everton (aet)
31 Oct 07 |  League Cup
Luton 3-1 Charlton (aet)
25 Sep 07 |  League Cup
Luton 3-0 Sunderland
28 Aug 07 |  League Cup
Luton 3-5 Liverpool
07 Jan 06 |  FA Cup
Yesterday's men
04 Jan 06 |  FA Cup


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