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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Newell warned but keeps his job at Luton

Mike Newell has kept his job as Luton manager but has been 'severely reprimanded' at a meeting with the club's board.

Newell's future was in doubt following comments he made at the weekend, when he said women officials should be banned from professional football and when he accused the club's chairman Bill Tomlins of 'messing up' everything he had been involved in since taking the helm in 2004.

A statement on the club's official website read: 'The board have severely reprimanded Mike Newell for the comments made, and have warned him than any repetition will not be tolerated.

'The manager gave the necessary assurances and apologised for the comments he made.'

Newell had apologised to Amy Rayner, the assistant referee who was the target of his anger after last Saturday's home defeat by QPR, but refused to retract his comments about Tomlins.

But after meeting the board this afternoon, Newell - who signed a four-year contract earlier this season and is believed to earn an annual salary of £400,000 - has hung on to his post at Kenilworth Road.

The statement continued: 'The club disassociate ourselves totally with the comments Mike Newell made regarding the assistant referee, which are completely unacceptable.

'The club have accepted the manager's explanation and his subsequent public apology.

'The manager was also asked to explain his comments about the board and he accepted that his remarks were totally inappropriate.'

Newell had said Rayner's appointment amounted merely to 'tokenism for politically-correct idiots', but apologised to her two days later.

Newell is no stranger to controversy. He claimed last January that bung-taking remained rife in football, prompting former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord John Stevens to lead an investigation into the 41-year-old's allegations.

Newell's comments about Tomlins displayed his frustration at what he perceived to be a lack of progress off the pitch.

Negotations over a proposed move to a new stadium appear to have stalled, there has been little money to spend on transfers, and the contracts of players like defender Markus Heikkinen and winger Dean Morgan - who will be free agents next summer - have yet to be renewed.

It remains to be seen whether Newell and Tomlins will now be able to work together in greater harmony.