Monday, January 7, 2008
FA Cup heroes Luton facing takeover deadline
Luton's impressive 1-1 FA Cup draw against Liverpool pales into insignificance today as the deadline for potential buyers of the cash-strapped club passes at 5pm.
The troubled Hatters may have received a cash boost from the televised third-round tie with the Premier League giants - which saw the Hatters earn a replay - but it is the events off the field which take on far greater importance now.
The Coca-Cola League One side went into administration in November and were deducted 10 points - a penalty which moved them to the bottom of the table.
A decent run of form over Christmas has helped their plight, but they still sit in the relegation places, while the players and staff have not been fully paid since October.
Chairman Bill Tomlins had been funding the club's losses out of his own pocket, but that deal expired at the end of 2007 and the Hatters could find much of the side who started against the Reds leaving for pastures new in the coming month.
Speaking before the Liverpool tie, administrator Brendan Guilfoyle said: 'I have seen one group of potential purchasers and invited them to fund the club for January.
'They have yet to answer and I am on the way to talk to another.
'But, after the Liverpool game, if there is no funding, then I will have to get busy in the transfer market.
'We're keen to ensure that we get proper values for those players we decide to sell but it's an imperative now.
'I have to have funding and the arrangement I had with the chairman has now expired so it's up to the preferred bidders now.
'If they want to buy the club then they will have to fund the running of the club immediately, otherwise we can't go forward.
'I can't take chances on the future of this club. I have to secure it and that is more important than the future of individual players.
'The club will be active in selling players in the transfer window but not to the extent that they become emaciated.'
Speaking after the Liverpool game, Guilfoyle said: 'A great match and a great result. What it now allows us to do is to generate additional income to enable us to pay the players' wages.'
Guilfoyle revealed the replay at Anfield, if televised, would net the club a minimum of £250,000 and said he was confident the long-term future of the club would be secured this week.
After the 1-1 draw Luton manager Kevin Blackwell said: 'I think we could have won it. It was a fantastic performance from the players. To see a sloppy goal go in like that could have really destroyed all the hard work they had done. But what a great response.
'It would have been thoroughly unjust had we lost. We have come away with a draw and it changes everything again because of the finances for the club.'
'I am hopeful that it now makes us a much more attractive proposition and people move in quicker. I don't want to lose a side I am starting to build here. That is the frustration.
'Surely anybody looking at that must think Luton's got something going and want to be part of it. All we can do is the football but if we can make it as an attractive proposition as we can, it must help a buyer come in and please God, we've done that.'