Hatters to celebrate the life of former owner Watson-Challis

Former Luton owner Mike Watson-Challis
Former Luton owner Mike Watson-Challis

Luton Town will hold a period of applause ahead of today’s game with Chesterfield to commemorate the life of former owner Mike Watson-Challis who sadly died on Wednesday, September 6.

Watson-Challis, who was a loyal supporter for many years, became involved with the Hatters at board level and went on to play a significant role in the club’s history, funding a promotion-winning campaign when he took control after the turn of the century.

He was a massive supporter of the club and he showed it with the contributions he made when we were in charge.

Mick Harford

He originally joined the club’s board of directors in April 1987 at the same time as Brian Cole, at the request of then chairman David Evans, investinga significant amount of money in the club until he resigned in March 1991 after a difference of opinion over the future vision of the club with new owners David Kohler and Peter Nelkin.

Watson-Challis eventually bought the club in June 2000 from Cliff Bassett, enjoying promotion to League One with Joe Kinnear as manager before selling the club in May 2003.

Mick Harford was assistant-manager to Kinnear during his time as owner, and the club’s legendary former striker and current chief recruitment officer said: “Mike was a terrific chairman towards Joe and us as a staff in terms of what we tried to do with the playing squad.

“He was always supportive and very generous in allowing us to bring the type of players in who we wanted to recruit to get us to the next level.

“We had a close relationship with him and even though he was at quite an elderly age, he was hands on, like when we went to the Isle of Man tournament in pre-season and he came along to see how things ticked along and to have a general overview of pre-season.

“Mike was very amiable and really good company to be around. He was a massive supporter of the club and he showed it with the contributions he made when we were in charge.

“He always had Luton Town Football Club at heart and even more recently, by selling the land at Junction 10 to the club, he and his family will hopefully guarantee that the club can have a vibrant future.”

On behalf of Luton Town Supporters’ Trust, chairman Tony Murray said: “All at LTST are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mike Watson-Challis. He was chairman at the time of our promotion in 2002 and allowed us to sign popular players such as Chris Coyne, Kevin Nicholls and Steve Howard.

“Our thoughts are with Mike’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

Hatters CEO Gary Sweet added: “Over the years I had many dealings with Mike and Sheila and whilst I was often put in my place, both were always supportive of the club.

“This supportive stance ultimately culminated in their approval for us to acquire the land at Junction 10 from the family’s trust – an event which will form a vital ingredient to our future success and which, on behalf of the board and everyone connected with Luton Town, I will be eternally grateful for.”