Hatters CEO won’t ever forget ‘grotesque’ 30-point deduction but feels FA might have picked on the right team in Luton
With the Hatters on the verge of reaching the Premier League this weekend, Luton chief executive Gary Sweet still won’t ever forget the ‘grotesque’ punishment handed out by the FA back in 2008, although believes they might have actually picked on the right club making their decision.
Almost 15 years ago, the FA hit Luton with a 10-point deduction for a number of misconduct charges, before, in their wisdom, handing out another 20 points after the club failed to reach a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement).
Denied any right to an appeal against what remains the biggest points deduction ever given out to an EFL club, it meant Town started the 2008-09 League Two campaign on minus 30 points, rendering any realistic hopes at staying up impossible, as Luton were relegated to the Conference, ending their 89-year stay in the Football League.
They then spent five years in non-league, led back to the fourth tier by John Still in 2014, and now not even 10 years on, remarkably sit 90 minutes away from becoming a top flight club again for the first time since 1992, Coventry City standing in their way in Saturday’s play-off final.
Even if Luton can reach the promised land, Sweet knows one of the darkest periods of their history will always remain firmly in the club’s memory banks, as he said: “No it won’t be forgotten by me and certainly not by the supporters and I’m sure there’s a couple of few banners being prepared for Saturday.
“You know what I don’t think there are many in the FA and Football League now who think anything other than it was grotesque.
“I have a very amicable relationship with both organisations today, but you are dead right it was grotesque what happened.
“They tried to make an example of a football club but they picked the wrong one, or picked the right one.
“Maybe they knew that we would actually have the gusto we did and the courage we did to come back in the way we have.
“It is a good story from that point of view, from their point of view isn’t it?
“In some ways it actually says you should give clubs a big points deduction because if the club behave like Luton Town afterwards, then why not?”
Asked if he had been surprised with the way in which Town have risen up through the leagues since those non-league days, with Still starting the journey, before it was taken on by Nathan Jones, Mick Harford and now Rob Edwards, Sweet added: “Am I surprised? No, I’m not being arrogant if I say no.
“Let’s start with we’re very patient people and because we are patient things happen a bit more quickly than you think, if that makes sense.
“So we have a determination almost from the point of view of it will happen, we will make it happen, we’ll just need to make sure the way it happens is right and if you get all of those things it happens quickly.
“I’m not surprised, and the reason is because, forget players for one minute because they are my heroes, they’re fantastic and we love them and they’ve been brilliant, not just the current crop, but the various crops we’ve had during that time.
“But the staff here, the board, my fellow managers, the people you see around the building are every bit of the heart and fabric and the culture we’ve got.
“In the last week we have had people work through nights to get the job done and not one of them says, ‘do I get more money?’
“Not one of them says ‘what’s the benefit to me?
“They just get on and do their job for the love of the game, love of the club, love of Luton whatever it is.
“That is why we have accelerated to the extent we have.”