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Page last updated at 21:30 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 22:30 UK

Owen devastated by Luton plight

Nick Owen
These misdemeanours were carried out by people who are absolutely nothing to do with the club now

Luton's prospective chairman Nick Owen

Luton Town's prospective new chairman Nick Owen has told BBC London 94.9 that he is "devastated" by the severity of their points deduction.

The club will start the League Two season on minus 30 points after being hit by two separate penalties for various financial irregularities.

"We can't believe the tribunal can be so vindictive," said Owen, head of the consortium about to take over the club. "What on earth are they thinking of, trying to destroy us like this?"

The Hatters, who have been relegated for two years in a row, had 10 points deducted last month by the Football Association for breaching regulations over agents' fees.

And Luton Town Football Club 2020 (LTFC2020), the company that will take over the club, has now been told by the Football League that they must accept a further 20-point deduction in order to be allowed to stay in the League.

The 20-point deduction came as a punishment to the club failing to agree a Company Voluntary Agreement with creditors after applying to come out of administration.

Owen said the combined effect of the points deduction was excessive and that it has left the club fighting for survival.

"I just do not understand," added the BBC TV presenter. "All right, give us some sort of sanction but 20 points, plus the 10 from the FA, it's just beyond belief. How they think we can survive that, I do not know."

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The Hatters, who went into administration in November 2007, were deducted 10 points as a result (separate to their two latest penalties), eventually ending the season bottom of League One.

Owen said the penalties should have been imposed last season in order to avoid punishing the club's prospective new owners for offences committed under the previous regime.

"We knew we would get some sort of points deduction and we were hoping it might have been less than 15," he added.

"We were even hoping that, if it was 15, it might have been backdated. All this happened last season and we wanted to come out of administration then.

"The League said 'we want to sort out the Leeds situation first' so the fact it was delayed into the summer was not our fault.

"If it would have been sorted out last season, the extra 15 or 20 points would have been given to us on top of the 10 we'd already got when we went into administration, so it wouldn't have been so bad.

The team we're building will be strong in character and will rise to the challenge.

Luton Town manager Mick Harford
"We're very hopeful that we might get those (the FA agent penalty) points returned to us, so we may only on start minus 20. I say 'only' but that's bad enough - but it's better than minus 30.

"We feel we have a very strong case because these misdemeanours were carried out by people who are absolutely nothing to do with the club now."

One piece of welcome good news has at least come the club's way, Luton manager Mick Harford having committed his future to the Hatters despite their difficulties.

"I have always loved this club but, over recent months, I have realised how much more I will love it when LTFC2020 finally take ownership," said the former Hatters striker.

"I have a great deal of experience in the game but never before have I been so encouraged and enthusiastic about working in such a strong management team.

"It won't be easy by any means but the team we're building will be strong in character and will rise to the challenge.

"We have to remain resolute and confident we can retain our long history in the league and I will give that commitment to Luton Town Football Club and our fabulous supporters."


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