By Dominic Ponsford
The new owner of Luton Town Football Club has banned a local paper from the press box more than a month before the start of the season.
Luton on Sunday has also been told its staff are not allowed to attend press conferences or speak to any employees of the club.
Businessman John Gurney is believed to be behind the move. He is the leader of a consortium that took over control of Luton Town in June.
The paper announced the news on its front page, describing it as “straight from the you-couldn’t-make-it-up-if-you-tried department”.
Luton on Sunday editor Aylia Fox said: “No official reason has been given, but our crime appears to be that Gurney does not like us because we first broke the takeover story and have been the only paper since that has been telling it how it is.”
She added: “A few years ago he was arrested and charged in connection with a £40m drug-smuggling ring. He was acquitted when the prosecution didn’t offer any evidence.
“We covered that story and it was the beginning of the end of his relationship with this newspaper.
“He bought the club at the beginning of June for £4 and we’ve done articles every week about the latest developments in what has become a farcical debacle.”
Stories have included plans to turn the club into a motor racing circuit with the stadium suspended above on airbags and a controversial phone-in to pick a new manager following the sacking of Joe Kinnear.
In 1999, Luton on Sunday’s sister paper, Bedfordshire on Sunday, ran a campaign against Gurney’s plans to sell Bedford Rugby Club to Coventry.
Fox said: “We will cover matches. If it means standing on the terraces, that’s what we will do. This ban is just a ridiculous thing to do and none of the fans are on his side.”
Luton Town club secretary Cherry Newberry told the paper: “You are not allowed to talk to anybody at the club and you will not be allowed access to the press box.”