Friday, November 16, 2007

Luton - All Bunged Up?

Former Luton Town Chairman Bill Tomlins together with other former colleagues are in hot water with the Football Association.

Here's the BBC report in full:

Luton and agents hit with charges
Luton Town's Kenilworth Road ground.
The FA's investigation into Luton began in March
The Football Association has issued more than 50 charges in connection with alleged breaches of rules at Luton Town, after an extensive investigation.

The charges relate to player transfers and contract renegotiations between July 2004 and February 2007.

The club, former chairman Bill Tomlins, ex-finance director Derek Peter and current directors John Mitchell and Richard Bagehot have been charged.

Six licensed players' agents have also been charged.

The investigation, which began in March this year, found that payments made to the six agents, totalling about £160,000, by the club's holding company Jayten (also known as J10) Stadium Limited were not disclosed to the FA on the required forms.

It's purely to do - on our side - with technical breaches on paperwork
Football agent Sky Andrew on the FA charges against him
The six agents have been charged with accepting payments from Jayten for their services to the club in securing the services of players.

In addition, it has been alleged that services for the benefit of a Luton player, totalling approximately £7,000, were paid for directly by Jayten but were not disclosed on the player's contract.

Sky Andrew, one of the six agents charged, was quick to play down the allegations.

Andrew, who is agent to a number of Premiership stars including Sol Campbell, Jermaine Pennant and Jermain Defoe, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "People mustn't blow this out of proportion, there's no question that irregular payments were made to officials or anyone like that.

Ultimately it vindicates me of the stance I made
Former Luton boss Mike Newell
"It's purely to do on our side with technical breaches on paperwork, which will come to light.

"We've spoken to the FA and the FA have conducted an investigation into dealings there - and it's only right they conduct their investigations and they've got rules in place and then they hand out charges to people.

"In our case it's just a technical breach of paperwork."

The charges follow an FA investigation after former Luton manager Mike Newell claimed in early 2006 that illegal payments in the game were rife.

"Ultimately it vindicates me of the stance I made," Newell told BBC 5 Live.

"I think as a manager of a football club, you have a duty to the supporters to make people aware of things like this.

"It was said over the last seven or eight months that there wasn't a time when I thought maybe it was the wrong thing to do because it's cost me my job. But ultimately this proves it was the right stance."

The full charges are as follows:

  • Luton Town have 17 charges, relating to payments to agents for nine specific player negotiations which were allegedly made through Jayten, rather than through the club as required by FA rules.

  • The Hatters have also been charged with provision of misleading information to the FA, not holding representation contracts with the relevant agents for the above negotiations, and dealing with two unlicensed agents (both through Jayten and directly).

  • Former chairman Bill Tomlins has been handed 15 charges. It is alleged that he was directly involved in 19 of the rule breaches listed above (except negotiations with two unlicensed agents which were not conducted through Jayten).

  • Former finance director Derek Peter is alleged to have approved payments made by Jayten in relation to the nine player negotiations.

  • Current directors John Mitchell and Richard Bagehot are charged with failing to report the alleged rule breaches to the FA when they became aware of them.

  • Licensed players' agents Sky Andrew, Mike Berry, Mark Curtis, Stephen Denos, David Manasseh and Andrew Mills are each charged with failing to ensure that payments to them were made and disclosed through the proper channels, and failing to enter into representation contracts with the club for specific services rendered in relation to above negotiations.

All parties have until 30 November to respond to the charges.

Luton issued a statement on their website, stating that "at this point in time the club has no comment to make on these allegations".

There is no indication yet as to what punishments might be enforced if the charges were proved.

BBC Radio 5 Live sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar pointed out that the FA's investigation had been triggered by Tomlins when he resigned in April after admitting making irregular payments to agents on three separate occasions.

Farquhar said: "In a statement at the time, the club said Tomlins had approached the FA earlier in the year to clarify certain matters relating to the club.

"He also told the BBC he made the payments from the club's holding company but was at pains to point out that he made no private gain himself.

"He admitted he did the wrong thing at the time but also pointed out he contacted the FA personally to report what had gone wrong.

"It's also important to mention that the manager at the time Mike Newell made a number of allegations following his dismissal the month previous to Bill Tomlin's disappearance.

"And also another director, Martin King, resigned in the wake of the manager's departure, saying he was concerned with a number of issues and not just the one to sack Newell at the time."

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