Hatters face £1.2m problem after Wembley defeat

FAILURE to win promotion could cost the Hatters up to £1.2million next season following their 2-1 play-off final defeat to York City at Wembley on Sunday, writes Mark Wood.

Town’s investors will once again have to plug that gap as Luton spend another year in the wilderness of the Conference after the officials failed to spot that Matty Blair was more than a yard offside when he scored the Minstermen’s winner at the weekend.

Managing director Gary Sweet said: “This means arguably a million to 1.2million every year we are in the Conference.

“You are relying on officials that cannot make a judgement call that is so obvious like that.

“We’ve got to find that money and that’s basically it.

“We can’t rely on cup success, and we can’t rely on transfer fees.

“If we had Jamie Vardy in our side right now and got that income from him of course it would help, but we’ve got to find that money.

“We have some wonderful people at the football club who keep digging into their pockets.

“But I just feel so, so sorry for them, because yet again we are just going to have to ask for them to dig deep again and they don’t deserve this.

“There’s always a contingency plan there and I’m not necessarily saying the money isn’t available.

“But I think it’s also got to be yet again another period of us ensuring we are spending efficiently, and I think in the business we have done that.

“I think there are several other areas we can carry on.

“The club’s going to survive, the club’s going to carry on, the club’s going to kick on and we are going to be stronger next year.

“So there is no real fear for people here. Everybody should feel optimistic about the future and not pessimistic.”

But Sweet admitted a third straight play-off failure and a second final defeat was not good enough. He said: “It’s like UK Gold, another repeat. We’ve just got to stop doing this, it’s the second year now.

“We hate it, absolutely hate it. It really hurts, hurts to the core. It’s bitterly disappointing, but at the same time we’ve just got to stop leaving things to chance.

“We’ve got to make sure we do the business ourselves next year.

“It’s not as though we haven’t gone for the title before. I think this time there is a different feeling around our loss.

“I’m not necessarily saying that it’s any easier, or that it hurts any less.

“It doesn’t, if anything it hurts more because I know had we got through, we would have been an excellent prospect in League Two.

“But in this league next year Paul (Buckle’s) the man, Paul will regroup.

“I feel better and more confident now than I have ever before about winning this league.

“I hope it (the promise of Buckle) can soothe everybody.

“I hope they can see that in the last few weeks that we’ve been able to turn things around and can see that is only going to develop even further.

“If that’s what Paul Buckle can do in the space of a few weeks then let’s see what we can do in the summer, and in a pre-season and how we can get the team shaped up for a promotion title next year.”

Sweet did concede the offside decision was hard to take, saying: “People talk about goal-line technology, people talk about the officials in big games that means so much to football clubs.”

The managing director was also full of praise for the nearly 30,000 Luton fans who made the short trip south, adding: “I’m so proud of everybody. We had nearly 30,000 here and I just thank them for the support and feel so sorry yet again they’ve walked away from a big stadium dejected as we have.

“Last year I think I cried after the game, today I cried ahead of the game when I came out and saw 30,000 people dressed in orange, it was just phenomenal.

“I’m just so sorry we just couldn’t do the business today for them.”

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