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There will be a period of applause at tomorrow's game for former club owner

22 September 2017

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Luton Town Football Club are sorry to report the passing of former owner Mike Watson-Challis, who sadly died on Wednesday 6th September.

Mike, a loyal supporter of many years, got involved with the Town at board level and went onto play a significant role in the club's history, funding a promotion-winning campaign when he took control after the turn of the century.

Mike 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. Although president of St Albans City FC, he had been a supporter of Luton for 12 years and was a member of the Kenilworth Suite. A director of Blue Arrow with homes in Florida, Guernsey and Hertfordshire, he invested a significant amount of money in the club but resigned in March 1991 holding a difference of opinion over the future vision of the club with new owners David Kohler and Peter Nelkin.

Mike eventually bought the club in June 2000 from Cliff Bassett – with some reports suggesting this came about as a present from his wife – and he handed a generous transfer budget to newly appointed Ricky Hill, who bought players that didn't quite cut the grade, leading to relegation to the bottom tier under Lil Fuccillo.

Subsequently, under Joe Kinnear, further generosity provided another sizeable transfer budget, this time resulting in the Town achieving immediate promotion to what is now League One, where the team finished a respectable ninth before Mike sold the club in May 2003.

Mick Harford was assistant-manager to Kinnear during Mike's 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."

To mark the passing of a man who played a major part in Luton Town FC's history, please show your appreciation during a period of applause before tomorrow's game against Chesterfield.


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