The From The Boardroom programme notes from Saturday
These programme notes were written by chief executive, Gary Sweet, for the Blackpool edition of Talk Of The Town.
We warmly welcome Gary Bowyer, his players, staff, our fellow directors from Bloomfield Road and, of course, their supporters who have made the trip south. I hope they have an enjoyable afternoon with us, but not so much that their recent run of good form continues. The ending of that impressive spell of just two defeats since we won up there just before Christmas, together with our own current five-game winless sequence being broken, would be perfect from a Luton Town perspective!
While we’ve been stuck in this patch of indifferent results covering the length and breadth of England and Wales, from Stevenage at home to Carlisle, Newport and Colchester, it is important to remember that everything we are doing at the Club is about building for a sustainable long-term future. That is why the Board last week gave our manager a contract taking him through to 2020 and perhaps beyond – and we all know what a big year that is hoped to be for the Club. It was a natural progression for us to take, because in Nathan we have a first-class coach who is rapidly becoming a top-class manager. He lives, breathes and helps develop our culture, our methodologies and is passionately intent on helping us achieve our ambitions whilst he achieves his.
We are delighted with the progress both Nathan and the squad have made in the 15 months he has been with us, and that improvement will only continue with the stability the longevity of the contract gives the Club and the manager. Underlying any short-term ups and downs, we are absolutely heading in the right direction and with this news, the signing of talented young players like James Justin and Isaac Vassell – not forgetting Danny Hylton – on long-term deals, the award-winning planning applications for Newlands Park and Power Court and the gradual move to training at The Brache full-time, it is an exciting time to be involved with Luton Town.
That is especially so with our promotion hopes alive and kicking, as they very much are. Form is temporary, as they say, and we are due to go on a winning run that could take us to where we want to be. Now is the time for everyone with the Club at heart – from the stands to the boardroom to the dressing room – to stand as one behind Nathan and the team to ensure this season ends in glory. We need every Hatter in the ground singing their hearts out. Anyone who has read Dave Brailsford’s famous book about marginal gains will know how so many one per cent improvements in different areas can add up to make a significant increase in performance for the team. Nathan and his staff work all week on many components to do that on the pitch, as do the Board and staff behind the scenes. From the stands, you too can make a difference to the result. Say what you want after the final whistle, but for 90 minutes for the next seven games – four of them here at home – we need your voices adding positively to the push for promotion.
Let’s have an atmosphere like we had in that wonderful, end-to-end semi-final of the Checkatrade Trophy – a competition for which we have submitted our feedback to the EFL on its future. Although opinion is understandably divided, as our young players went through each round, support grew around Kenilworth Road. Having consulted with our supporter groups, we have gone back to the League saying we support the existing redraft of the format on the basis that our young players can take part in it without sanction, just as the EPPP1 academy sides are. However, even though we have had assurances about this not being the thin end of the wedge towards the entry of Premier League B teams to the English pyramid – which it absolutely isn’t – I think the EFL have got to work an awful lot harder to convince you that that’s not the case, and have asked them to do so. I’m confident they will.
It speaks volumes for the hugely consistent season we have seen so far that we have two of our players shortlisted for awards at the EFL’s ceremony in London next Sunday. Danny Hylton has made headlines ever since he joined us from Oxford United last summer, not just for his 24 goals but the work-rate and wonderful skill that has endeared him to supporters. Opposition fans rarely boo a bad player, and the pantomime villain role he’s taken on at away grounds indicates what a threat they view him as.
That is clearly the case for managers too, whose votes have made him one of the three players up for League Two Player of the Year award. We wish Danny good luck, as we also do Stephen O’Donnell, whose wonderful strike against Yeovil here in August is one of ten nominated for Goal of the Season. Another one like that wouldn’t go amiss this afternoon, SODS!
One shame about the EFL awards is that despite how hard we work on creating a community club and a real family experience here, it is really disappointing to see that since rejoining the League, we haven’t been nominated for an award in this sort of area. Clearly, it is our environment that we live in today that holds us back. When we relocate, we are hoping to clean up on that front have a brand new Trophy Room full of on and off-the pitch awards!
Finally, on that relocation subject, I apologise for not updating you more than we’ve been able to recently but, as you can imagine, we’re at the technical end of the application process as we speak. We are making sure that every single ‘i’ is ticked and ‘t’ is crossed so the case in favour of our application is – as near as any application could possibly get – unchallengeable. Of course, we are expecting the Council’s decision – should they give us a positive determination – to be challenged, as is usually the case. However, we’re confident that the challenge is unlikely to come from a statutory authority as we work with those bodies to ensure they are satisfied with every aspect of both schemes.
We’re hoping we’ll be able to announce some good news this summer.
The plans we have are so good, and so positive for our town, that they are already winning global awards! I was at MIPIM 2017 in Cannes three weeks ago where our master designers AND Architects, led by Manuel Nogueira, collected the Architectural Review Future Projects Award in the Sports & Stadiums category for the designs for Power Court. We also received a commendation in the Regeneration & Masterplanning category for Newlands Park.
Naturally, we are more than delighted with these accolades from an esteemed panel of international judges who acknowledged our designs for their innovation and excellence from a design, engineering and planning perspective. Who could possibly argue with them?
First, the here and now. Three big points to complete our second league double of the season. Make your voices heard and roar the lads on.
Come On You Hatters!