Championship strugglers Luton Town have dismissed manager Graeme Jones and three of his coaching staff as the coronavirus lockdown bites down on EFL football.
Luton were in the relegation zone, six points adrift of safety with nine fixtures remaining when football was halted last month.
With income restricted and no restart date in sight, the financial pressure is starting to show on some clubs and it has been confirmed that Jones will leave the Kenilworth Road with immediate effect.
Graeme Jones has agreed to leave his role as manager of Luton as the club reduce costs
His assistant manager Gary Brabin, first-team coach Inigo Idiakez and technical goalkeeping coach Imanol Etxeberria have also had their contracts terminated.
Luton, with one of the smallest budgets in the Championship, have blamed the decision on cost-cutting in an uncertain post-Covid landscape, which will reverberate across lower league football.
‘Given the current circumstances affecting not only football but the world as whole, the club are taking an early move to restructure in order to reduce its cost base and to create efficiencies within the football department,’ said a club spokesman.
Chief recruitment manager and club legend Mick Harford will step in to take the role on an interim basis as he has done in the past and no applications for the vacant roles will be considered until some of the current uncertainty can be removed.
Luton’s Kenilworth Road stadium is pictured locked up as the coronavirus shutdown goes on
Harford guided Luton to promotion from League One last season after Nathan Jones quit to become manager of Stoke City.
Graeme Jones arrived in the summer to take his first managerial job after years working in tandem with Roberto Martinez at Swansea, Wigan, Everton and Belgium.
He introduced his trademark attacking style but was unable to guide Luton to a position where they can be secure about their future in the Championship.
They had, however, been on a three-match unbeaten run prior to the suspension of football, having beaten Brentford and drawn with Stoke and Wigan.
The news was greeted by a mixture of sympathy and sarcasm on Twitter, with plenty pointing out that Jones ‘hadn’t won a game in a month’, in reference to the current football shutdown being experienced across the UK.
Jones only arrived at Luton in 2019 to take up his first managerial job after years as an assistant
Others were unhappy about the decision and questioned how serious the club’s financial problems must be to take such drastic action.
User @Ollie2509 wrote: ‘Why is anyone celebrating this? Whether you respect him as a manager or not, this shows that the club is facing some drastic financial difficulties.’
‘Very shocked that you’ve done this,’ said @SamWatt111. ‘If it’s not a football decision then it screams financial panic, and that’s not a good look if you are also asking people to renew season tickets. If it is a football decision, then to do this after our recent good form is very weird.’
User @paulscott76 wrote: ‘There has to be something more to this or at least a very very valid reason. Absolutely gutted’, while @DgGentle commented: ‘No fan of GJ [Graeme Jones] but I didn’t see this coming.’