Council has no way to make Hatters pay

RENT-FREE FOR NOW: The club's Kenilworth Road ground
RENT-FREE FOR NOW: The club's Kenilworth Road ground

Nothing can be done to make Luton Town Football Club pay rent on its Kenilworth Road ground, a councillor has said.

The Hatters have an agreement with the council whereby the club will only have to pay if the it begins to turn a profit.

At a council meeting last week, Conservative councillor Gilbert Campbell asked the ruling Labour members whether, in light of budget cuts affecting the authority, anything could be done to make the club pay.

“The football club is a business,” he said.

But deputy council leader Sian Timoney explained that the authority was powerless to change the terms of the lease.

She said: “There’s five years and seven months left on the current lease. The terms of the lease would ask for a rent of £25,000 a year but only if Luton Town Football Club show an operating profit during that year.

“No operating profit has been shown to date, therefore we have got no rent. Their last set of accounts showed they were operating with a deficit of two million pounds.

“We are trying to negotiate with them and are having discussions in terms of whether there is anything that can be changed.

“Legally nothing can be done – we are just asking them to help in difficult financial times.”

Councillor Timoney went on to say that the lease was “not in the best interests of the town or the council”, and that she believed a commercial organisation should be paying rent.

“But we can’t oblige them to until 2018,” she said.