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By ESPN Staff

Luton face 50 charges over payments to agents

The Football Association tonight acted on allegations of systematic back-door payments totalling £160,000 made to payments by Luton and have announced more than 50 disciplinary charges.

The club, former chairman Bill Tomlins and former finance director Derek Peter have all been charged with breaching regulations, as have two current directors and six licensed football agents.

It follows a 20-month probe by FA investigators that started in January 2006 after the-then Luton manager Mike Newell claimed irregular payments were rife in the game.

The investigation found evidence that the six agents - Sky Andrew, Mike Berry, Mark Curtis, Stephen Denos, David Manasseh and Andrew Mills - were paid by Luton's holding company Jayten (also known as J10) Stadium Limited rather than the club in contravention of FA rules.

In the deals, which involved player transfers, loan moves and contract renegotiations, Luton allegedly made the payments through Jayten Stadium even though none of the agents had a contract saying they were representing the club in those deals.

Luton have been hit with a total of 17 charges alleging they made payments to agents through Jayten Stadium rather than the club, and of providing misleading information to the FA.

Tomlins has been charged with 15 rule breaches, Peter with nine, and current directors John Mitchell and Richard Bagehot with failing to report the breaches when they became aware of them.

The agents have been each charged with failing to ensure that payments to them were made and disclosed through the proper channels.

The FA said in a statement: 'It is alleged that in a number of player transfers, loan deals and contract renegotiations between 2004 and 2007, payments were made to the six agents for their services directly from Luton Town's holding company, Jayten Stadium Limited.

'These payments, totalling around £160,000, were not disclosed to the FA on the required disclosure forms, representing a breach of FA Rules.

'It is alleged that this payment mechanism was initiated by Bill Tomlins as chairman of the club, with each individual payment authorised by Derek Peter as finance director.

'It is alleged that John Mitchell and Richard Bagehot subsequently became aware of this system but did not alert the FA.'

A final charge relates to £7,000 paid to a player but not disclosed on his contract.

In relation to the alleged breaches of the agents' regulations in force at the time, the FA said investigations showed they were paid even though they were not representing the club.

The statement added: 'The six licensed players' agents have all been charged with knowingly accepting payment from Jayten Stadium Limited specifically for their services to the club in securing the services of players.

'In addition, the FA's investigation revealed that none of the agents acting for the club in each of the deals had a representation contract with Luton Town.

'It is also alleged that in two transactions to secure the services of players, Luton Town dealt directly with two unlicensed agents, both of whom were paid via Jayten Stadium.

'In addition, the club has been charged with negotiating with two unlicensed agents in two further player transactions.'

The parties have until November 30 to respond to the charges.

Luton later released a statement on their official website acknowledging the charges but making no comment beyond that.

Mike Newell insists the charges 'vindicated his stance' to go public in claiming irregular payments to agents were rife in the game.

Newell, who was sacked for gross misconduct by Luton in March, told BBC Radio Five Live: 'Well I think ultimately it vindicates me, the stance that I made.

'As a manager of a football club you have a duty to supporters to make people aware of things like this.

'Over the last seven or eight months there were times when I thought maybe it was the wrong thing to do because ultimately it has cost me my job.

'This proves now it was totally the right stance.'

Newell, who was sacked after questioning where transfer revenue had gone and calling for an investigation into the club, added: 'You will have noticed that there has been a lot of mud flung in my direction since I was sacked, and I haven't responded to any of it in the last seven or eight months and that's deliberate.

'I have a case against Luton and I don't want to say too much because obviously that case is ongoing.

'I didn't do it (go public) with a heavy heart, as a manager of a football club you have a duty to supporters to make people aware.

'If you're not happy with the way the business is being conducted and the way the business is being run, then you have to make a stand. I'm not one of these people who can keep my mouth shut and say the right things for the right people, if you know what I mean.

'I stood up for myself and I stood up for Luton Town Football Club, and that's the only people that matter to be honest. There will be people in the game who are not happy with the stance that I made and I think that has been proven already by the lack of support I've had in the last 18 months.

'But to be honest today I am quite happy with the stance that I made.'

The charges will be heard by an FA regulatory commission at a date to be fixed.

A wide range of sanctions are available to the commission including fines, suspensions, withdrawal of licences and possible points deduction for the club.

It is understood neither Tomlins nor Peter are currently involved in football but any sanctions would be kept hanging over their heads if the returned to football in any capacity.

Sky Andrew is agent to a number of Premiership stars including Sol Campbell, Jermaine Pennant and Jermain Defoe.

Mark Curtis is Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce's agent and hit the headlines recently through his involvement in Bolton's appointment of a new manager.

Bolton said he was appointed as a headhunter but Graeme Souness pulled out of the selection process saying said he felt 'uneasy' at Curtis being in the interview knowing he had previously represented another candidate Gary Megson, who eventually got the job.

Curtis insisted he was not Megson's agent, and that the manager had used another representative.


Luton Town FC, 17 charges
• Payments to agents for nine specific player negotiations made through the club's holding company, Jayten Stadium Limited, rather than through the club as required by FA Rules.
• Provision of misleading information to the FA.
• Not holding representation contracts with the relevant agents for the above negotiations.
• Dealing with unlicensed agents (both through Jayten and directly).

Bill Tomlins, former Luton chairman, 15 charges
• It is alleged that he was directly involved in 19 of the rule breaches listed above (exceptions are negotiations with two unlicensed agents not conducted through Jayten Stadium Limited).

Derek Peter, former Luton finance director, nine charges
• It is alleged that he approved payments made by Jayten Stadium Limited in relation to the nine specific player negotiations.

John Mitchell, current Luton director, one charge
• Charged with failing to report the alleged rule breaches when he became aware of them.

Richard Bagehot, current Luton director, one charge
• Charged with failing to report the alleged rule breaches when he became aware of them.

Licensed players' agents Sky Andrew, Mike Berry, Mark Curtis, Stephen Denos, David Manasseh, Andrew Mills. Two charges each
• Failing to ensure that payments to them were made and disclosed through the proper channels.
• Failing to enter into representation contracts with the club for specific services rendered in relation to the above negotiations.