Luton Town and an unfair disadvantage
Posted by John Beech on April 14, 2009
The 2008/09 season in Division 2 will not be one that the Football League will look back on with pride.
The League has struggled to deter clubs from going into Administration by imposing points deductions. This demonstrably has not worked. At the season start three clubs, Bournemouth, Luton and Rotherham, began with a total of 54 points deducted related to repeat insolvency events (Luton were carrying a further 10 points penalty for financial irregularities which their previous manager had ‘whistle-blown’) and since then Darlington have had 10 points deducted for entering Administration, again for a second time – a total of 64 points. To give a sense of scale, 64 points would be sufficient to place any club awarded them in the play-offs zone without kicking a ball.
Luton, who, under their current ownership by LTFC2020, have more than shown their will to succeed with a notable victory at Wembley, have succumbed to the inevitable given a thirty points deduction, ironically through a victory by Grimsby, whose manager was the whistle-blower mentioned above.
This second punishment – the 20 points penalty this season – now takes on a worrying edge, as relegation is all too often the start of a spiral into Administration, something which the Football League claims to be trying to deter. Fortunately their attempt to bounce back will be bolstered by the over £400k they have made through their success in the FA Trophy (1).
Luton’s relegation will of course be good news for the club that now avoids relegation – surely a case of an unfair advantage if ever there was one. Any sanction imposed against one club should not be of specific benefit to one other club. To allow this, which is far from unprecendented, Altrincham for example having escaped relegation from the Conference because of issues at other clubs for three consecutive seasons, makes a mockery of sanctioning clubs for financial mismanagement through points deduction, especially when the original ‘offences’ were committed by a previous owner.