Bird & Bird Advises Luton Town FC Supporters' Trust

29 July 2003

Bird & Bird has been advising Trust in Luton (“TiL”), Luton Town’s official supporters’ group, on options available to the troubled football club. Culminating in the recent appointment of an administrative receiver, it is hoped that the club’s immediate financial crisis will be resolved while also leading to its more secure future in the longer term.

TiL, a non-profit-making industrial and provident society co-owned by a substantial number of the club’s supporters, was established several months ago amid supporters’ concerns regarding the direction and funding of the club. The creation of TiL followed the acquisition of the club in May 2003 by Melodious Corporation, a vehicle in which the club's acting chief executive John Gurney is interested. As with many other Football League clubs, the demise of ITV Digital contributed to a deterioration in the club’s finances. However, despite the change of ownership, additional required funding was not forthcoming and this together with other alleged irregularities, led to close monitoring by the Football League and the subsequent appointment of its special compliance unit to investigate matters at the club.

TiL instructed Bird & Bird to evaluate various options for the club. After discussion with the former owners of the club, TiL acquired the shares in Hatters Holdings Limited, an offshore company owed several million pounds by the club and holding debentures securing such debts. TiL was therefore able to appoint an administrative receiver to the club under those debentures.

Bird & Bird advised TiL on all matters, including the share sale, leading up to the appointment of the receiver and will continue to advise TiL. In particular, TiL is currently involved in negotiations with prospective investors and is hopeful that a consortium of funders will be established to acquire the club from the receiver. Partner Brett Israel leads the Bird & Bird team with assistance from senior assistant Joss Hargrave.

Commenting, Gary Sweet, one of the directors of TiL, said:

“We are very pleased with this outcome. John Gurney’s hold over the club has been significantly reduced and its position stabilised in the run up to the new season. We were very impressed with the excellent, commercial advice and on-going support we have received from Bird & Bird”.

Brett Israel, head of Bird & Bird’s corporate recovery and insolvency practice, added:

“With input from our sports law group, we have been delighted to assist TiL in taking initial action which should protect the club’s interests. We look forward to working with Gary and his colleagues within TiL to explore opportunities needed to secure the club’s longer term prosperity.”

For more information, please contact Brett Israel or Larry Cattle, Director of Marketing, on +44 (0) 20 7415 6156.