Read managing director Gary Sweet's boardroom notes from Saturday
This piece appeared in Saturday's programme against Nuneaton. To buy a copy visit www.hattersworld.co.uk.
A warm welcome back to Kenilworth Road to one and all for this Skrill Premier encounter against a Nuneaton Town side we have yet to face at all this season.
We especially welcome those loyal followers who have made the trip from Warwickshire to be here, as well as the people associated with the ‘Boro; players, staff, management and directors who have helped today’s visitors flourish in the division so far this campaign.
This afternoon will be our first home fixture in the Skrill Premier since the televised fixture against Barnet on New Year’s Day. A day that will be best remembered for the pitch conditions but one which shouldn’t be forgotten, with the team’s determination and adaptation to the conditions a significant factor in the resultant three points which strengthened our position in the table.
It was with obvious disappointment that last Saturday’s scheduled fixture with Wrexham fell foul of the inclement weather. The persistent rainfall in the last few weeks had made the pitch particularly soft under foot but, despite that, the surface was still in excellent, playable condition last Friday. However, a deluge in the early hours of Saturday morning had an unfortunate effect on the surface and, with large parts of the pitch covered in standing water, the local referee’s 8.30am verdict had an air of inevitability about it. Last Saturday apart, we have been fortunate weather-wise so far this season and our summer – and indeed continual – investment in the playing surface has helped the pitch’s recovery and maintenance throughout the campaign. Therefore, there should be no reason why the surface’s quality should be called into question.
This afternoon we hope to see a number of new faces playing on the pitch, and on that note I would like to welcome our new arrivals who have joined our ranks over the past three weeks. Last Friday night we confirmed the signing of defender Fraser Franks, the most recent acquisition, from Welling United. Fraser joins recent loan additions Kane Ferdinand, Ryan Inniss and Cameron McGeehan at Kenilworth Road. January is always an important time of year for football clubs, and we are, of course, no different. The transfer window challenges all clubs, throughout the pyramid, but we are delighted as a board that we have been in a position to support John Still and his staff in identifying and procuring Fraser, Kane, Ryan and Cameron.
What is most refreshing is, from a budget perspective, this season’s football spend – including transfer fees and player wages – is the lowest it has been since we have been playing in the Football Conference.
We have becoming increasingly creative with how the playing squad is shaped and then managed accordingly. John and his staff have played a major role in enabling us to be in the position we are on the pitch in terms of league position, as well as what squad of players he is able to pick from at any certain time. It is great to see that we are considered a good ‘home’ for up-and-coming young players from respectable football clubs higher in the league ladder. Short-term loans are used not only when we need to plug the gaps when injuries or suspensions arise, but also, in some cases, when we have the opportunity to evaluate a player’s potential purchase value. All the signings have been made for the long-term in mind to enable John establish a squad befitting future success. Yes, we want success this season – don’t we all? But, as John first said when he joined us in late February last year, it is no quick fix. It is a project, but we want our team – Luton Town – to evolve and develop and continually improve. We don’t want to stand, no pun intended, still.
Meanwhile, the asset value of our squad is being increased by the success of the existing squad of players. We have never been in a healthier position squad and morale-wise since we have been in this league and that has been down in no small part to the hard work and enthusiasm of John and his staff and scouting network. Working, and subsequently supporting, them has been an absolute pleasure. Their encyclopaedic knowledge of the game and the players, is frightening. Their love, passion and depth of information on players nationwide at all levels is almost scary, and as a result, it is one of the reasons why we are receiving such co-operation from other clubs. While as a club we have always been held in high regard by others as a good home for players (our track record in developing and nurturing young talent, for example), our reputation has been boosted further by the John Still and Terry Harris factor, with their past success stories known throughout football circles in this country and beyond.
So, the transfer window closes next Friday and we are happy to report that we are in the fortunate position that, at this moment in time, we are able to retain our best talent. This is a different kind of challenge that John and Terry face, as this hasn’t always been the case in their past. However, without wishing them to change their recruitment ethos, the squad head-count balance needs to be maintained. We do, however, still expect to be busy behind the scenes over the next few days. And why not? This is, as I said earlier, an important time of the season. A time when clubs aim to strengthen – and we will be no different. Injuries and suspensions are sure to rear their heads. It is for this reason that John will be given the opportunity to strengthen the squad in areas he sees fit.
Thanks to his and his staff’s hard work and dedication we find ourselves in a strong position – what a turnaround it’s been in a year! Now’s the time for us to push on, starting this afternoon.