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MUST READ: GARY SWEET'S EXETER NOTES

8 May 2016

Season roundup and stadium updates from the Hatters chief executive

GOOD AFTERNOON ONE AND ALL FOR THIS FINAL LEAGUE 2 ENCOUNTER OF THE 2015/16 SEASON. A WARM WELCOME TO THE GRECIANS, ESPECIALLY THOSE LOYAL FOLLOWERS WHO HAVE MADE THE 380-MILE ROUND TRIP. I HOPE YOU HAVE AN ENJOYABLE DAY.

It is customary, in the final league programme of the season, to take stock and acknowledge the season’s trials and tribulations. Whilst some have suggested this season isn’t necessarily one to ‘write home about’, I beg to differ. 2015/16 was a momentous season for football – and in future years could be recognised as a momentous season for Luton Town.

Firstly, reflecting on the football season in general, I couldn’t possibly write this without congratulating Leicester City for their superlative achievement. Not only was their success wonderful
for The Foxes and for the beautiful game, it also acts as a very inspirational example to clubs like our own. The sentence “If Leicester can do it then why can’t we” will have been spoken by many a club manager, kit man, groundsman or supporter across the country and beyond. Maybe including us!

Their example will also send out a political message demonstrating how footballing success can benefit a town or city in terms of image, morale, culture, growth and economics.Closer to home, whilst I’ll be the first to admit that the first team’s performance was under par and well below our expectations, I’d also argue that the season was far from wasted.

We now have a core coaching staff of Nathan Jones, Paul Hart and Kevin Nugent. Who could fail to be excited by the prospect of this team leading our football aspirations? We have also found an exciting new young striker in Jack Marriott who fully deserved last week’s award accolades – well done Jack (and well done Luton Town Supporters’ Trust for superbly organised evening).

AMAZING 

Most enjoyably, this season witnessed a most amazing feat by our fantastic Under-18s; a League and League Cup double topped up by a quarter-final appearance in the FA Youth Cup. Their achievements made us all immensely proud – not just the board and staff but supporters and the town too.

Then we come on to the most significant event of all this season.

The developments at Power Court and Newlands Road. Since we launched our 3D models and further images of the schemes the feedback has been incredibly positive with negligible negativity (and what there is of that will be answered entirely when more information can be released).

I have previously stated that we intend to submit our outline planning application this summer.

I can confirm that this is indeed the case. In fact, our planning application is on course to be delivered at the end of next month.This will be preceded by a few weeks of public consultation which gives you an opportunity to discover everything about the schemes at Power Court and Newlands Park, to ask questions of us and our expert consultants, to suggest changes (and even an opportunity to object, should you wish to do so) and to identify how they will have an impact on the regeneration of your club and town. 

Importantly, this consultation period will also give you an opportunity to support our planned developments and be involved in our regeneration. We will exhibit morning, noon and night over eight days and three local venues starting in the Eric Morecambe Suite on 21st May – in a fortnight from today.

Please come along, we’d like to see you. The 3D models will be on show alongside many more images of the stadium and the other elements of both schemes, which represent a giant leap forward in the regeneration of our town.

We are particularly keen to meet people who may have concerns about the scheme to understand how we may be able to improve the developments even more.

For those further afield or unable to make one of the dates, tonight we will be launching a lot more information on our development website 2020developments.co.uk where you’ll be given the chance to register to receive more details as and when they are released. All of the information being exhibited at our public consultation roadshow will be made available online, and we’ll be showing live images and social media feeds from the events.

As well as collaborating with a wide range of stakeholder groups in order to gain their feedback, we have also presented much of this information to Luton Town Supporters’ Trust, Loyal Luton Supporters’ Club and Luton Town Disabled Supporters’ Association (along with a couple of other groups) – mostly dealing with the stadium design, the planning process and the viability of the build. Each group came to their meeting with a shopping list of features they’d like to see… and whilst some elements of the finer detail (such as the naming of stands) are things we intend to manage once consent is granted, I don’t believe there was a single issue that hadn’t been thought of already – and everyone left with promise and a smile.

So, with our application set for submission and soon to be in the public domain, the power to influence transfers to you to make your voices heard.

We are closer now to building a new home for our Club than we have been for almost 60 years, when it was first envisaged that a relocation was needed to match the ambition and potential of the club and town. It has been an exhilarating, white knuckle rollercoaster ride which seems to have seen as many downs as ups and a way only us Mad Hatters can appreciate. There’s no other club quite like ours!

Similarly, our wonderful town has been kicked in the teeth rather too many times for our liking and it’s great to see that our Council has the appetite and vision to create game-changing strategies – and not be afraid to make bold decisions to put our town back on the map. This positioning is already reaping rewards as we see progress unfolding in front of our eyes – from the announcement for a Mass Passenger Transit to the airport to Galliard successfully selling studio apartments in town like hot-cakes at prices 50 per cent above our forecasts two years ago.

PROPHECY

Even my slightly tongue-in-cheek prophecy of Luton becoming the next Shoreditch at last year’s MIPIM UK may not be too far from the truth… just in the last week Luton was judged to be the 6th trendiest town to live in the UK according to Trinity Mirror Data Unit and now known as the UK’s start-up capital. To quote half of a well-known slogan, ‘The Future’s Bright…’ I’d like to sign off with some welcomes, goodbyes and thank yous.

We warmly welcome Paul Hart into the happy camp as Nathan’s assistant. Paul’s CV needs little introduction of course. He will add a mentoring experience that is perfect for Nathan and Luton Town. As one arrives we say goodbye and thank you to Ray Williams – our FD over the last season. Although Ray will continue to use his experience with Grosvenor to assist on property matters I’d like to thank Ray personally for his hard work over the last year.

 

At this time we also see a few players leaver us too. Huge thanks also go to Paul Benson and Scott Griffiths who depart at the end of this season. Benno and Griff have been loyal servants to Luton, have conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion and were vital components of our promotion success. Thank you both, and you go with our best wishes for the future. It goes without saying that we look forward to welcoming you all back to Kenilworth Road or maybe even Power Court.


Finally, I need to thank you personally for your support on and off the pitch and my staff for their hard work (and for putting up with my mild occasional cantankerousness!).

Enjoy and savour the game today – you know we’ll all be missing it by the end of the month!






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