As the coronavirus continues, we would like to provide you with further information as to the current state-of-play at Luton Town Football Club.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, the Club’s senior administration team have held detailed twice-daily video conferences and stayed in constant contact online to discuss the many complicated issues that have arisen as a result of this crisis.
The financial impact of the lockdown is severe and affects every single department at the Club. As the situation continues, difficult decisions must be made and action taken to ensure the stability of the Club now, and in the future. We do not take these decisions lightly, and we recognise the insecurity that many of our employees will be feeling at this time.
As such, we would like to update you on some of the decisions around employment status and the Club’s operational changes that have been implemented in response to the current unprecedented effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
EMPLOYMENT STATUS FOR STAFF AND PLAYERS
Amidst much activity at the various levels of the football pyramid, the Club would like to take this opportunity to communicate where it stands in matters relating to player salaries and furloughs for players and staff.
No decision has been made, as yet, regarding how the Club will ask players to help keep the Club going. Despite other clubs arriving at an early agreement on the deferrals or reductions of players’ salaries, Luton Town doesn’t feel it is in a position to propose anything at this time to its playing squad.
The Club has had initial discussions with the Professional Footballers’ Association but has relaxed these, not wishing to prejudice discussions now taking place between the EFL and the PFA in order to jointly arrive at an agreeable position to assist clubs during this potentially catastrophic situation.
Club executives have been keeping senior players abreast of the status and, once an agreement has been reached between these two authorities, the Club will engage with its players in order to try and arrive at an agreement that is palatable to both parties.
It is, however, important to note that during this time, the Club feels that every member of staff will need to contribute in some way if the Club is to safely navigate this uniquely challenging period and to retain a functioning Club when we all exit it.
FURLOUGHING OF STAFF
The Government’s Job Retention Scheme was designed to provide assistance to employers in order to avoid making scaled staff redundancies. Following the introduction of the scheme last week, the Club’s senior team have consulted in detail with colleagues across the Club, and sought advice from its lawyers, accountants and respected industry partners.
After much consideration of the available facts, the difficult decision has been made to furlough a number of staff within the organisation over the coming weeks, including most of its football staff. However, it is important to note that the Club will only furlough staff:
- Whose job function has genuinely been left vacant by the loss of football matches or day-to-day operational activity;
- At the point of the employee genuinely being stood down as a result of the loss of football matches or day-to-day operational activity (not simply from the 1st of March whether employees were working or not); and,
- Where staff who, by being furloughed, are not placed into poverty by doing so, at which point their salaries will be topped up to a level that does not risk the Club’s longer-term accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.
Once implemented the Club will be transparent in providing statistics of the numbers of employees this will affect, however, it is likely that almost all employees requested to be furloughed will not be high earners. Employees of a higher earning salary will, in due course, be requested to volunteer into a programme of salary reduction or deferral to assist the business during the cashflow crisis.
FURLOUGHING OF PLAYERS
Whilst other clubs are taking steps to place footballers on furlough leave professional players based at Kenilworth Road will not be requested to take furlough leave until further and direct advice is provided by the government or HMRC.
It is the Club’s belief that the intention and spirit of the Job Retention Scheme is to avoid, wherever possible, employee redundancies brought about by the loss of cashflow while businesses and society cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Club does not believe, without further evidence, that taxpayer’s money should be used to fund the Club in supporting its higher earning professional players, especially where such players are given personal training programmes at home, managed by Club employees demonstrating that they are, technically, working.
The Club does not wish to place itself in a position where it could be scrutinised by HMRC at any given point in the future by making rash and potentially incorrect decisions at this time. Should any further, specific guidance be provided that the Club feels would legitimatise such a claim, then it would reconsider its position at that time.
In line with the government’s guidelines in attempting to limit the spread of Covid-19 and protect the NHS and vulnerable people, the Club has continued to scale down its activities and is operating with only absolutely essential location-based staff maintaining the facilities at Kenilworth Road and The Brache.
All other club staff are working from home where they possibly can to keep the club operating as fully as is practically possible and continuing to serve its supporter base.
In terms of players, coaches and club staff, we are fortunate enough to report that we continue to have a clean bill of health and will continue to practice the measures that the whole country needs to take to help save lives.
FIRST TEAM SQUAD
The Brache training ground was completely closed before the weekend for team training with plans for ‘tick-over’ sessions for individual players having been shelved following the government’s instructions last Monday.
Players who do not have access to home gyms collected spin bikes and other fitness equipment during individual time slots, ensuring they travelled alone without needing to car share, to enable them to follow personal fitness programmes set by Head of Sports Science James Redden and his team from home.
In line with EFL and FA guidelines, the club’s Under-18 players are currently not training as a squad, and the entire academy remains closed until further notice.
As with the senior squad, all players have been given training programmes to follow at home and are keeping in contact with their coaches on a regular basis.
You will be able to keep up-to-date with many of the younger players honing their skills on the @academyltfc twitter timeline – there are some brilliant examples of how innovative the boys and their parents can be!
The Kenilworth Road Ticket Office is closed to the public, but supporters can still use our online facility or call and email the Ticket Office on 01582 416976 and firstname.lastname@example.org during the following hours:
Season tickets for the 2020/21 campaign went on sale on Saturday, 21st March, and are available online.
We would like to thank all supporters who have renewed their season tickets so far, with their investment helping the club’s cashflow situation at this extremely difficult time.
We would also like to thank those extremely generous supporters who have made additional donations, expressing their wish to help the club survive and come through this period in the best possible shape. Every single one is greatly appreciated.
The @HattersHelp twitter account will also respond to queries regarding season tickets and anything else to do with ticketing during these hours.
Both the Kenilworth Road and Park Street stores are now closed until further notice.
Online shopping is still available, at present, via www.hattersworld.co.uk but please note that there may be a delay in delivery of your order due to our retail staff working in strict isolation to conform with social distancing measures. There will be no Express Delivery option for now.
If you have any queries for the retail team please email email@example.com and keep checking the website and our social media channels for updates of potential changes to the above.
LUTON TOWN COMMUNITY TRUST
The Hatters Community Trust’s staff are working from home where possible and although all activities have been cancelled for now, they remain available to speak to on 01582 561622 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMERCIAL / HOSPITALITY
The Town’s commercial team will be continuing to work from home where possible and are hosting meetings with sponsors and members by video conference call, both individually and on a group basis, including last week’s monthly Business Breakfast Club meeting.
All events that were due to be held at Kenilworth Road in the Trophy Room, Eric Morecambe and John Moore Lounge have been cancelled.
If you have a query please contact the team on email@example.com.
The Hatters’ senior administration team – including the executive office, finance, human resources, football administration and media – are currently working full-time at home to the very best of their ability to steady the ship through these rough waters, and to ensure that Luton Town remains as stable as possible when football finally returns.
Strategic decision making and senior management at this time is absolutely necessary with so much to do, even without games. Such functions simply cannot done while key staff are strictly unable to work during furlough leave and, as such, you can rest assured that the Club will have its finger on the pulse without misguidedly drawing on much needed public purse designed to avoid redundancies predominantly for the lower-paid.
We will keep you updated with further developments over email, on our social media platforms and on this website.
If you have a query, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include ‘Q&A’ at the start of the subject, or reply to the social media post detailing this information.