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Luton chief hides secret dig at Watford in his programme notes as Hornets risk EFL rule breach

Luton Town chief Stephen Browne hides a secret dig at Watford in his programme notes as the Hornets risk an EFL rule breach.

Hatters supporters noticed a cheeky message in the Hatters’ programme for their home fixture with Blackpool.

Rob Edwards’ side won the match 3-1 thanks to a brace from Pelly-Ruddock and with Carlton Morris also netting one, but it was their programme that also got people talking.

Browne wrote a message for supporters in his segment ‘From the Boardroom” and although most of it was about Luton’s current affairs, some fans pointed out what they believed to have been a secret message.

They noted how the first letter of each paragraph helped spell out the message: ‘Watford are s***’.

Watford currently sit 12th in the Championship table, well behind their competitors who are still pushing for playoff places and will probably be there at the end of the season, under Rob Edwards who was sacked by Watford in September 2022.

If Luton win it, it will be the first time they have ever played in the Premier League and would also mark their first appearance in the English top flight since 1991-92.

They’ll need to make some changes to the stadium, which will cost millions to sort, but handier with the amount of prize money they could claim should they win the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Watford are in danger of breaching English Football League rules by failing to engage directly with fans so far this season.

EFL regulations require clubs to host at least two meetings of fans in each campaign. However, the Championship club has yet to hold any in 2022-23.

Watford’s last meeting was held in March last year when they were still part of the Premier League. 

Watford will need to hold two meetings in less than a month in order to comply fully with EFL rules.

EFL states that clubs have until the end the season to comply with regulations with Watford’s last fixture being on Monday the 8th of May. It also highlights the possibility of a fine if they fail to comply.

Watford say they are aware of the rules and the club “fully respects the EFL regulations”.

“There has been no contact of any kind from the EFL that the club is in danger of any breach, something that would come before any fine. And we are led to believe that any fine for a potential breach would total £1,000,” a Watford spokesperson told The Athletic.

“The club would happily pay a £1,000 fine to ensure the fan groups have the necessary time to agree on a structure that meant ALL appropriate fan groups are represented in the meeting with the most senior club officials.”

The club stated that a new format for supporter engagement, which replaced the more open fan forums and their larger audiences, was the beginning of a new plan in which at least three such meetings would be held per season.

Watford adds that details about their next gathering should become available soon yet no date as been announced. They do however say that Gino Pozzo, the owner, and Scott Duxbury, chief executive officer and chairman, will attend the next gathering, and you just know fans will have plenty to say having made their feelings known with banners and chants directed at Pozzo.

“The Club is absolutely committed to a meeting with fan groups that would include both chairman Scott Duxbury and owner Gino Pozzo,” a club spokesperson went on. “We are in a period of consultation with respective fan groups as to what the structure of any meeting would take, who would be represented as well as when and where the meeting will be held.”

The ‘period of consultation’ has led to 21 different groups representing Watford supporters uniting to ask for input from the fanbase. “It is essential for me that it has to be the supporters themselves that decide the structure of how they are represented across the very broad church that is the Watford fanbase, and in what format the meetings take place,” Duxbury has said.

EFL rules state that if meetings aren’t open to all supporters, the representatives who do attend must be “elected, selected or invited with basic democratic principles” and “individuals cannot be excluded by the club without good reason”.

The last ting Pozzo said to fans — aside from occasional explanations of the hierarchy’s latest of many managerial sackings — came back in June 2022 to amid the 10-year anniversary of his family buying Watford.

“My family’s long experience in the game, as custodians of other football clubs over many years, tells us that if you are prepared to show unity when difficult moments come along, then the successes seem that much richer,” Pozzo said.

“We said right at the start that we wanted to build a club founded on the core principles of stability, sustainability and growth. These are values which don’t have a time limit and this has been proven, in Watford’s terms, because the long-term commitment we made in 2012 remains as steadfast as the moment it was first stated.”

“In our 11th year as custodians of this club, the fire still burns just as brightly to make Watford FC the best it possibly can be,” said Duxbury.

“I am often asked to speak about our vision and long-term plan for the club. There is nothing complicated or secretive about our plan. It’s a plan management and supporters can share: to achieve success on the field of play, to grow the club off the field, and to be identified as a real force for good within our local community.”

This is what fans said as Luton chief hides secret dig at Watford in his programme notes while the Hornets risk an EFL rule breach…


@ben_terrett: Excellent as always by Stephen!

@idkelly40: Superb Mr Browne 😀😀

@LTFC_Dave: The Harry Potter quote as well

@GFD1967: Do we really need this level of childishness? Of course, the answer is yes. Yes, we do.

@Richwfc2: Fan banter fine, a director of a club doing just a bit classless, not surprised though, having good season yet still got slaughtered by our worse team in years, probably be in same league again next season, we get our sh@t together & again look down on you for the umpteenth year 👍

@catchingthem: Ha ha ha ha wonderfully childish

@Andy_Peacock: Outstanding 👏

@LutonEye: Genuine genius

@ScottLTFC: Petty. But I love it

@thompsett_matt: Things you love to read


@liam_omeara: This is why points deductions are the only option. ‘Taking the fine’ makes the whole thing seem optional

@goldengoals1: Just shows up the cowardly ownership we have. They have an obligation to run TWO per season, not to fit one in last minute because they have to, and are making the fans sort it out. More disgraceful antics from the board.

@SmithyWFC85: Just another example of us trying to bend the rules when it’s easier to have a meeting open to all fans and views within reason. I bet if we were going well on and off the pitch we’d seen a few going ahead

@eastcoteonion: I don’t know, I thought us fans “engaged” very well with the club in the second half against Huddersfield.

@MEvans87: I hope the EFL look at this and change the sanction to a points deduction or a punishment that is actually impactful, that way clubs won’t be able to hide from supporters and just pay a fine, it’s beyond a joke how bad this is!

@WatfordFCTwit: This is hilarious! They’d rather pay money NOT to engage with us! 😂

@TheWatfordWay25: There more happy to pay the fines because there bunch of scared losers who can’t face meet the fans over the concerns of the club. Because they think there doing right rather than the fans who don’t know nothing.

@AllegedlyR: #PozzoOut

@ben_smith025: “Club may take fine” My word it’s hard to support us right now.

@wfcmike: Gino Pozzo penny pinches player fees and squeezes every last coin from the fans and yet is happy to pay fines just to avoid a conversation

@KB127: Strange thing not to do. It can be a very straightforward box-ticking exercise.

@MrMcBear: But if you hold fan forums then they might ask difficult questions about the owner, the chairman, player recruitment, manager merry go round and lack of fan engagement 😱

@charlietheo: Didn’t realise there were actually EFL rules on holding fan forums, a small comfort I guess

@katieteresachan: A fine of £1,000 is meaningless to I imagine most or even all clubs in the EFL. Make it a points deduction and they may actually give a damn.

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