Luton Town boss Nathan Jones has accused the EFL of attempting to stunt young English talent coming through at Kenilworth Road.
The Hatters were fined £15,000 for the changes made during the Checkatrade Trophy campaign yesterday, in which they handed debuts to seven members who had come through the academy, Craig King, Kavan Cotter, Frankie Hinds, Jack Snelus, Alex Atkinson, Arthur Read and Connor Tomlinson.
All that the EFL have done at the minute is stunt young talent and the thing that hurts me is they’re trying to stunt young Luton talent, and we can’t have that.Nathan Jones
Players like Frankie Musonda, Tyreeq Bakinson, James Justin and Akin Famewo all featured in the group stages too, with Justin now in the senior team at right back and Famewo making his full League Two debut at Hartlepool recently, giving further proof to how seriously the club took the matches.
Speaking to the press today, Jones said: “We have a process here and what they’ve (EFL) done is just looked at the process and said, ‘your process isn’t good enough.’
“Well I’m telling them it is. Come and see the work we do with the youngsters, come and have a look at the talent these boys have got.
“We’re giving them a platform, we’re giving them a pathway, and all they’ve done is try to hinder that, but they won’t.
“We went in with our eyes open, we thought we might get a little bit of a fine, but it will be worth the fact that we would have got these to a level where they can play league football.
“It’s not like the players we play will never play a league game or have not played a league game for us.
“We’ve put them in for league games, so it’s not a problem. I’ve worked with the English FA and worked with young English talent in terms of the U21s, while five England nationals made their debut for Yeovil Town when I was coaching there, so I have a little bit to say about producing talent.
“If they’re not given an opportunity, they won’t do it, so all that the EFL have done at the minute is stunt young talent and the thing that hurts me is they’re trying to stunt young Luton talent, and we can’t have that.”
The amount Hatters, along with fellow League Two side Portsmout, who have since appealed, are being made to pay was something that Jones couldn’t get his head around either, as he continued: “The fines system is bonkers, it just seems the size of the fine is a little bit gratuituous.
“I’m staggered really, it’s unbelievable, not to say too much to get myself in trouble, but I don’t understand the justification.
“Okay they’ve gone to the letter of the law, but circumstances prevail and we have a squad here.
“We’re trying to do things on four fronts, because we gave two Championship sides a right good game (in the EFL Cup), and mixed it up as well, made one or two changes for those games.
“So we’ve given four competitions a right good go. Now if you’re involved in four competitions, you have to have a squad that can handle that and we’re treated every single game with the utmost respect, we’ve tried to win every single game.
“I just see this as unjustified, I just don’t see the logic in it. They talk about young English talent and the EFL want to promote young English talent and they want to encourage clubs to play young English talent, but it seems they only want clubs to play young English Premier League talent, not talent that we have here.
“Now we won two of the three games, we were the better side against Millwall for 70 minutes then the learning curve for my young ones where they couldn’t see the game out which was brilliant for us in terms of our learning curve.
“Then we had the biggest crowd of the round, so our fans take it seriously, the club takes it seriously, we take it seriously, then we get fined for it.
“For me it’s staggering and there’s no real justification in it because you look at other teams who have made substitutions and named managers on the bench, and so on, is that taking it seriously?
“I could have played myself, I’ve got 600 league games, but I didn’t because we do it right.”
Since the news broke, Loyal Luton Supporters Club have set up a Justgiving page to help the club pay the fine, with over £1,300 raised at the time of writing.
When told of this, Jones added: “To be honest, I’m up to the roof with how proud I am of our fans, so if there’s a little bit of space left, then it will add to my pride.
“We’re a proper club Luton Town and we don’t do anything gratuitously, we don’t do anything willy nilly.
“We’ll take whatever we have to do on the chin, we’ll see if anyone sees sense, if not, then we’ll have to do what we do.
“The fans turn out in force and they support us in every game. The club’s been through a lot, it’s been through worse than a 15 thousand pound fine, we’ve been through much worse and we came through it strong and we’re strong now.
“We’re a proper club so that’s amazing they’ve set up that Justgiving page, but it just fits in the ethos of the club and the fans we have so nothing surprise me about them.”
To contribute to the Loyal Luton Supporters Club Justgiving page Click here.