Read the chief executive notes from Saturday's programme
After two successive, and ultimately disappointing, cold fixtures on the road, I would like to wish all supporters a warm welcome back to our Kenilworth Road home this afternoon.
My greetings are extended to our visitors Accrington Stanley; their directors, management, players and supporters, who have made the 400-mile round-trip from Lancashire today. Stanley arrive here in good spirits having toppled league leaders Burton Albion on Tuesday evening, further enhancing League 2’s reputation of being one 0f, if not the, most competitive divisions of the Football League.
However, with five years of Conference football under our belts, this is hardly something that is new to us and the pressure of a tough competition is what we’ve thrived on in recent times – and now is no different.
Even though the last kick of the game loss at Wimbledon may have been hard to take, there were plenty of positives, none more so than the goal-scoring debut of striker Elliot Lee and a ‘second debut’ for a certain Cameron McGeehan – welcome both! Add to that the performance of Luke Guttridge, pulling the strings in midfield, plus the accomplished debut of Elliot Justham on his Football League debut, and there was much to be encouraged about despite the result.
With Cameron and Elliot’s arrivals, the return to fitness of a host of previously unavailable senior players, Alex Lawless and Paul Benson in particular - and the impending returns from suspension of our two defensive rocks in Stephen McNulty and Luke Wilkinson - we should have every reason to be upbeat.
So we enter this final straight with a squad complete and ready and, to a man, we’re thoroughly looking forward to the run-in and feeling confident about our destination for next season.
Two promotions in two seasons would truly be a wondrous feat. But if it doesn’t happen this season we’ll stand an even better chance next as we, as a club, develop and progress on and off the pitch.
Earlier in February we announced that Earlybird season tickets would be going on sale on the 2nd March – this coming Monday – at a fixed League 2 price, regardless of the outcome of this season.
Hopefully by now you will have read the Q & A we distributed via our website, but I wanted to touch on a few key points in these notes today. As you can imagine, a lot of thought goes in to our pricing strategy for tickets and this season it was our aim to fine-tune the ticketing structure to bring even more fairness to it. Inevitably, in doing so, this has meant that prices for some groups of supporters have increased very slightly whilst, in some cases, a couple of prices have decreased.
We’re excited to announce that next season we will be offering a limited number of adult season tickets in the Oak Road for just £250 which reflects the lack of some facilities and comfort at that end of the stadium – our cheapest season ticket by far and for a considerable number of years.
We have also made some changes to further discourage misuse of some ticket types, or ‘tactical purchasing’, which should make things fairer on the vast majority of fans who gladly pay the appropriate amount.
Other highlights include the introduction of a buy-back scheme offering any season ticket holder the opportunity to release their reserved seat for resale if they’re unable to attend certain games in return for a discount against their 2016/17 season ticket.
We have also introduced new benefits for the popular Diamond upgrade which I’m sure you’ll find an improvement too. Earlybird tickets will be on sale until 23rd March, so I would encourage you all to make the most of the discount while it’s there. For the majority of you, prices are frozen at the same price as last year during this period, so please don’t miss out.
Whilst not a direct season ticket issue, I’d just like to write a brief word on the introduction of match categorisation for next season. Put simply, having the ability to categorise matches enables us to maximise income for busy games and maximise our attendance for less busy games and is being introduced softly at this time so we can fully understand first-hand the tactical flexibility it provides us prior to our relocation. Indirectly, for season ticket holders, it makes little difference and could, potentially, make buying a season ticket even more beneficial.
It has been incredibly heartening to see that your levels of support have attracted interest and respect from the football community at large. As I write, the ticket office has only a few remaining of the 2,600 tickets available for our match away to Portsmouth in a fortnight’s time, while tickets for our remaining home fixtures continue to sell well with many close to selling out.
Likewise, our corporate and hospitality areas become ever more popular. Many games have already completely sold out– such as our final home game against Stevenage.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your unwavering support. Please don’t miss out on what could be an exhilarating couple of months of football - book your tickets early!
I would also like to thank you for an unprecedentedly impressive response to our recent travel survey sent out via email asking you how you travel to Kenilworth Road. A whopping 41 per cent of recipients responded providing an excellent (and interesting) set of results with the raw data now being analysed by our specialist consultants.
Over the next game or two you may also notice some representatives carrying out personal, more detailed data collection from some of you as we continue to gain a much better understanding of the intricacies of our supporters’ travel patterns. Forecasting future travel patterns is a specialist art and forms one of the most important components of any possible planning application.
A major consideration for both the planning officers and us at the Club, for the selection of a site for our new home, will be your method of travel to and from the ground. It won’t come as any surprise to read that, whichever location we move to, the more supporters travelling by public transport the bigger the capacity of the stadium could be, and rightly so.
As a Board, we are committed to sustainable travel. Not only for the good of the environment but also having shared with you the ghastly and lengthy experience of trying to leave an away ground from one of the many ill-conceived car parks in and around the various newly built stadia upon our away travels. This isn’t an experience we wish to bestow upon visitors to our new facility - whether Luton supporters or our visitors.
It is intended that our transportation consultants, together with the expert advice of the Council, will design a set of convenient and appropriate recommendations for all visitors on matchdays for efficient travel once we have eventually settled on a site. However, for now, the detailed and comprehensive traffic assessment for a short-list of sites is well underway, the results of which will ultimately define which of our nominated sites would be the most efficient and suitable.
Meanwhile, we continue to assess the design, phasing and viability of all key sites whilst our specialist surveyors carry out considerable technical due diligence on all sites still in consideration. It may be a lengthy process and one which we shall treat seriously as we leave no stone unturned (no pun intended) but our progress moves swiftly on.
With many supporters having lived through previous attempts at relocation and witnessing protracted planning issues at other clubs, a lot of you will recognise the complex and lengthy nature of these processes; however, we genuinely appreciate your patience, understanding and the trust you have held in us in allowing us to get on with the job. Thank you.
Enjoy the match today! Let’s get back to winning ways with your positive encouragement helping us do so!