Read David Wilkinson's notes from Saturday
From the Boardroom
WITH VICE CHAIRMAN DAVID WILKINSON
Good afternoon everyone and a very warm welcome to Kenilworth Road.
Today we welcome the officials, players and supporters from Plymouth Argyle. The Pilgrims have made an impressive start to the season and still top the league despite their defeat to in-form Oxford on Tuesday. We expect a good turn-out today against a team we have challenged many times over the years.
In fact, as Football League clubs, we have met 71 times in our history winning 21, losing 29 and drawing 21, with Plymouth having an impressive home record with a nearly 63 per cent win rate. Our games are almost always highly competitive and we hope for more of the same today.
I was extremely disappointed not to have had the opportunity to say goodbye to Stephen McNulty last week and was very, very sad to see Macca leave us. However, I have personal experience of how work and absence can put pressure on a relationship and I fully understand and support his decision. I would like to wish him and his family future happiness, to tell him that he is a legend and will always be welcome here. Macca has been invited to our Christmas and end of year parties. I hope he makes it so we can all have the chance of showing him how we feel.
We talk a lot about ‘Luton’ football and probably each one of us thinks it’s something a bit different, but for me Macca epitomises it. Fun, character, skill, effort, style, cheek, leadership, bravery, confidence…I could go on, but our great centre-halves over the years all had it. Syd Owen, Terry Branston, Paul Futcher, Chris Nicholl, Steve Foster, Chris Coyne, Curtis Davies, John Faulkner – and you can add Macca on that list.
Gary mentioned in his notes on Tuesday how disappointed and frustrated we have been by our recent performances, particularly referring to the second half at Crawley, which was a complete mystery. Could there have been a ‘Macca Factor’ as he had told the squad he was leaving only the day before? Who knows, but what we do know is that he was a ‘massive’ character at the training ground, so if we were all affected by it so surely would the players too? There is no doubt that we haven’t fulfilled our potential, except on the odd occasion, this year.
We, the Board, the football management and you are all fans. We all want the same thing. Every one of us probably thinks there is a different way to achieve what we want, which is fine, but criticising and sniping at people who are trying to do their jobs is pointless and counter-productive. Plants need nourishment and support in order to grow and if they don’t get it they die. It is the same with people and in this case players on the pitch.
You are magnificent supporters, but a few of you can be extremely negative. I know it can be really difficult sometimes, but if we don’t manage to hide our frustration during a game it just adds to the pressure and nervousness on the pitch. There are one or two of you who sit near me – you know who you are – who make it an unpleasant experience watching a game because you are incapable of positive comment. I would be happy to talk to you after the game, but please give us a break during it. This is a bit of a déjà vu moment as it was this sort of negativity we had to remove before we could get out of the Conference. Remember how many sides came here thinking that if they could annoy and frustrate for a while then the crowd would turn and that was job done. Believe me, we can be just as critical and questioning, but we try to reserve it for the Boardroom, office or bar afterwards.
Players are only human, even though there are times they are treated like Gods, and like all of us, they react positively to encouragement.
My last notes were for the Stoke Cup tie after our poor start and in them I was trying to plead for patience. We were excellent that night and then were the form team for a month. Perhaps we can do the same again now. This time I’m begging for tolerance and support. John Still has never promised a quick fix. We have some quality players, who need to gel and we can help with encouragement and support.
On a totally different note Gary talked in his notes about the land at Junction and our plans for it. It is a massive project which could transform both Luton and the Football Club. It is part of the process necessary for our relocation in the town.
To that end we are reorganising the corporate structure of the Club. We need to separate the Football Club from the property under the same ownership so that we can manage the development, bring in partners and borrow money without putting the Club at risk.
So we are creating a new holding company, which will be owned entirely by the existing owners of the Club. It will own the Club 100 per cent and the property development company 100 per cent. Once the development starts it is more than likely that developers, property investors, bankers, partners, etc, will acquire interests in the property company, which will be ring-fenced for debt and tax purposes.
It may be that we end up with a minority interest in the development company, or if it suits us better, no interest at all, but that would only be if that was in the best interests of the Club.
However, the Club’s the new stadium will be protected by the structure and ownership will remain as now. The purchase of land at Junction 10 is the first time since David Evans sold Kenilworth Road that we have had “skin in the game” as they say, which gives us a stronger position from which to negotiate.
You will see our plans being made public bit by bit over the next six months. We wish we could release them now, but it’s unfortunately not that easy. However, the Board is enormously excited about the potential – not just for our beloved Football Club, but for our town as well.
My quote today is from Gurbaksh Chahal: “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.”
Enjoy the game.
Come on you Hatters.