Ombudsman rules on FA's side in debut case

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The first Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO), Professor Derek Fraser, has adjudicated on his debut case following a complaint into the Football Association’s handling of Luton Town’s fine and points deduction.

Hatters fan Mark Carlisle took his case to the IFO after feeling the FA, and its appeal process, had been unfair. The FA handed down a 10-point penalty to Luton to take effect from the beginning of the 2008/09 season.  Combined with a 20-point penalty - which is separate from this case - for going into administration and failing to meet a Company Voluntary Agreement, the club started the season with a 30-point penalty meaning relegation from League Two looks inevitable.

Luton lost their appeal in July 2008 against the 10-point deduction and £50,000 fine which followed irregularities in dealing with agents by the club’s previous regime, between July 2004 and February 2007. Current owners Luton Town Football Club 2020, fronted by former breakfast TV star Nick Owen, were not involved in the scandal.

Mr Carlisle took the case to the IFO contending that the punishment given to Luton was not consistent with other verdicts, and unfairly punished the club’s new owners who could not be held responsible for the previous regime’s actions.

However, the IFO concluded that “the matter has gone properly through the FA Inquiry, Commission and Appeal Board processes.”
 
The IFO was established at the beginning of the 2008-09 season and replaces the Independent Football Commission who previously dealt with unresolved complaints from supporters. The IFO, however, has been given a stronger hand with a remit to adjudicate on complaints which have not been resolved by the football authorities.  The IFO can take policy issues directly to the FA, Premier League and The Football League although it cannot retry cases.

Jon Keen, deputy chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “We have high hopes the IFO will give supporters a fair crack of the whip when it comes to resolving often complex complaints.

“Any supporter who feels the authorities are ignoring their complaint should contact the IFO, and we’d like to hear from them as well.”

If you have a complaint which has not been satisfactorily resolved click here to contact the FSF and we’ll work with you in taking suitable cases to the IFO.

Click here to read the IFO's full judgement.