Hatters respond to maximum sanction imposed by EFL
Luton Town Football Club are dismayed by the EFL’s ruling that the maximum £15,000 fine should be imposed for fielding what the league believes were under-strength teams in securing qualification from Southern Group H of the Checkatrade Trophy.
The EFL executive has fined the Hatters £5,000 for each of the three matches played in the much-maligned competition for breaching Rule 7.3 by not starting with at least five players who started the league fixture immediately before or after the Trophy game, or the five players who have started the most league and cup matches to that point in the season.
The Town won 2-1 at League One club Gillingham (pictured above) and beat Premier League West Brom’s Under-21s – plus four senior players – to ensure qualification to the knockout stages ahead of last Tuesday’s defeat to Millwall, which was played in front of the second highest Checkatrade Trophy crowd of the week at Kenilworth Road.
The £15,000 fine will be deducted from the £20,000 prize money gained from these impressive results.
Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet said: “We entered those teams with our eyes wide open and we accept that we would be fined for doing so. While we don’t feel we should be paying ‘fees’ to get our youngsters experience, we view that as an investment in their development.
“We are staggered, however, that we have been fined the maximum amount for our first offence, which was winning away from home at a club from the division above with half-a-dozen first-team regulars in their team.
“We played nine graduates of our academy in that game at Gillingham, and seven against a West Brom side containing four players, two of whom who were internationals and had been transferred for several million pounds, and still beat both.
“We believe our team selection has added value to a competition that was dying last season and is now – with low three-figure attendances at many matches so far – well and truly on its last legs.
“We had the second highest attendance in our one home game against a fellow senior EFL club, which we believe was only because we were playing our youngsters.
“We acknowledge our breach of the competition rules, but does our ‘offence’ make a mockery of the competition any more than a club substituting their first-choice goalkeeper after just a couple of minutes of the game to ensure they met the five-player starting rule.
“Which is more in keeping with the spirit of the game? Which supports the competition’s ethos of promoting young talent more?
“That is clearly disingenuous and by fining us this amount the EFL is effectively saying that promoting young talent is only acceptable if they’re with an EPPP1 club, and they are depriving their own member clubs’ young players access to first-team football.”