Luton chairman warns that Judicial Review costs will hit Hatters in the transfer window

Town chairman David Wilkinson has warned that Capital & Regional’s application for a Judicial Review into the Hatters plans for a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park will affect the club's transfer budget this season.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 10:17 am
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 12:10 pm
Luton chairman David Wilkinson lifts the League One trophy back in May

Luton Borough Council confirmed earlier this month that the Mall owners have formally applied to the High Court for a JR into the Newlands Park scheme which was given the green light back in March.

A statement from the club at the time said: "Naturally, their decision to make such a claim will lead to delays to the regeneration of Luton and will not only incur significant costs to our own business affecting our operational expenditure but also to Luton Council, which will be funded by the local taxpayer."

With Town facing a battle to stay in the Championship this term, then there is every chance they will look for reinforcements during the January transfer window in which to give them the best chance of doing so.

However, with mounting legal costs, Wilkinson warned in his programme notes on Saturday, that funds might now be limited.

He said: “As a club we’re in a good place - ahead of expectations on the field and slightly behind off the field largely thanks to an infamous Mall operator.

“It goes without saying that the whole process will waste time and cost a significant amount of cash.

“For us, just in the first phase, this money will be equivalent to the income derived from all of our executive box members for the entire season which we would clearly prefer to invest on our football ambitions this season.

“Costs to the council could be better invested in more positive and productive ways for our community.”

His caution was also echoed by director Stephen Browne in Tuesday night's programme, as he said: "I am sure the squad would like more money, the manager would like more transfer funds with the hope that it will result in more points on the board.

"But to achieve that we would need to compromise our legal defence or cull our stadium and development ambitions, or plaster Bet365 all over our shirts and stadium.

"There is no cash to splash, no future to risk, no desire for constant change, no magic bullet.

"The harsh fact of football is that football budget correlates very closely to finishing position.

"This is exactly why we want our new stadium and developments - the increased capacity and the variety of income streams means that we would indeed have the ability to provide a truly competitive budget for Gary Sweet an Graeme Jones, and we would be in a position to attract talent of all ages.

"We need to secure the real prize of financial security and ability to compete, long-term."

On hearing that he might not have the finances required to bolster the squad during January, Luton boss Graeme Jones said: “Since I’ve come to the club, I knew what I was walking into.

“I think that there’s a brutal reality of where we are, that I think the majority of people get, but there’s also a reality that we’re maxing out and we need to be optimistic that we can make it work, there’s a reality of that.

“If we’re talking about going back to budgets, there’s a wide spread budget issue in football.

“I don’t think the money’s evenly spread at all.

"If you think about the Premier League money and then think about the parachute payment money coming down, it doesn’t make it a level playing field.

“But I think I’m really realistic and I look at the performance from our group of players this weekend (against Leeds) and it showed me I don’t have to speak about budgets anymore because we were really, really good in the game.

“So January window or not, I don’t know how much Newlands Park will affect that, but all I’m interested in is the next game.

"I’m sorry to be boring, but that and nothing else.”