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Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 18:11 UK

Luton to face 30-point deduction

Luton Town

Luton will start next season on an unprecedented minus 30 points after a ruling by the Football League.

The Hatters had already been deducted 10 points by the Football Association after being found guilty of misconduct for paying agents via a third party.

And the company which will take over the club has now been told it must accept a further 20-point deduction in order to be allowed in the League.

The penalty came after Luton failed to satisfy the League's insolvency rules.

The combined 30-point deduction is the biggest in Football League history, giving Luton an extraordinarily difficult task in trying to avoid relegation for the third season in a row. Bookmakers have already made them 10-1 on favourites to drop down to the Blue Square Premier.

But the club is appealing against the FA's 10-point deduction for financial irregularities in regard to its dealings with agents, with the case set to be heard next week.

The 20-point additional penalty related to the club's inability to agree a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) to exit administration, with the Football League pointing out that this is the third time in 10 years that Luton have been in such a position.

Once again a policy of honesty is not recognised at all by the footballing authorities who claim they want to clean up the game

LT2020 director Stephen Browne

The Football League board also imposed the condition that Luton Town 2020 (LT2020), the new holding company, must pay any unsecured creditors 16p in the pound and asked it to forego any right of appeal.

LT2020 director Stephen Browne said the club was still being punished for the mistakes of the previous regime in charge at Kenilworth Road.

"We have tried to do everything openly and honestly and we placed our faith in the footballing authorities," said Browne, whose consortium is still in talks with the administrator.

"Obviously the very clear message from both the FA and the Football League is that doing such a thing is a total waste of time.

"Once again the faithful supporters are left high and dry and once again a policy of honesty is not recognised at all by the footballing authorities who claim they want to clean up the game."

But Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney said the board had little option but to take a strong line with Luton.

"The board's primary responsibility is to protect the integrity of their competitions," said Mahwinney.

606: DEBATE
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"This often means making difficult decisions which require balancing the interests of fans, the club's creditors and the other teams in the League.

"We will continue to take that responsibility very seriously."

Browne said that the consortium, fronted by BBC presenter Nick Owen, would not give up despite the points deduction representing a serious setback.

"We will continue the fight by sticking to our principles of openness and honesty," he said.

"People who should, in theory at least, be protecting supporters will not bring us down.

"It's not a laughing matter any more, but even so we will continue to ensure that Luton have a solid and sustainable future, despite what the Football League do to us."



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