From the Boadroom notes from Talk of the Town
These programme notes were writen by the Town's Finance Director, Simon Gibb, for the New Year's Eve match against Barnet.
Hello and welcome to Kenilworth Road for our final game of 2016. As always, it is good to have you here as your support is much appreciated.
First of all I would like to welcome the players, supporters and board from our neighbours at Barnet. They arrive today on a high, on the back of a good win away at Cheltenham last time out and are now just outside the play-off places. They, like us, also have a strong away record. We will have to be at our best to break them down today. After a set-back on Boxing Day against Colchester United we will want to bounce back strongly today and remind our nearest challengers in League Two that we intend to be in the promotion hunt at the end of the season. I know the lads will be up for it, so please get behind them with all your New Year cheer and let’s make sure we end a good year on a high.
Given it is the last game of 2016 we should perhaps reflect on how far we have come since this time last year. At that point we had just changed our manager after a poor run of results, and Nathan Jones was still to join. We had also just announced our plans to build a fantastic new stadium at our preferred location of Power Court.
Nathan has brought new life to the playing side of the club, introducing a new style of play to existing and new squad members, which has led to us being very difficult to beat, with the best defensive record in League Two and resulting in us being in a strong position of fifth at this stage of the season. For those who follow statistics the EFL this week issued figures showing that of teams in fifth at this stage of the season, 30 per cent go on to achieve automatic promotion whilst 70 per cent finish in either the automatic or play-off positions. If you believe the statistics, this suggests we are in a great position to push on for promotion and have an exciting second half of the season to come!
Youth development of the club has continued to reap rewards, supported by the manager and board keen to see younger players pushing for first team places. Our successful progress in the Checkatrade Trophy, with some of our quality youngsters playing a key part, is testament to our club philosophy and I hope many of you will come along to support them again in the next round at home to Chesterfield on Tuesday 10th January.
From a financial perspective the club is in good shape and we are very grateful for the continued significant investment from our investors, which has enabled us to pursue our exciting, longer term plans. As well as using these funds to secure the Power Court and Newlands Park sites this year, we have also made a significant investment in new training facilities at The Brache. These facilities will be a major improvement on our existing training ground at Ely Way, and importantly can be further developed into full Premier League quality in due course. These investments are all part of our planned steady progress towards a financially sustainable football club, with top quality facilities for all users with the capability of holding its own at the top levels of our game.
We have continued with our quest for a new stadium and submitted our planning applications for both Power Court, but also the equally important retail and office development at Newlands Park by Junction 10 of the M1, the latter which is essential in order to enable us to create sufficient funds to build a quality new stadium along with new, top-class facilities for the town, in and around the Power Court location. Following the public consultation the people of Luton have given our plans overwhelming public support with 10,796 positive responses submitted, and only 33 objectors. We are extremely grateful for your support.
Planning permission for such a major rejuvenation project is more complicated, however, than just public opinion as the impact, environmentally and economically, on the town and its existing and future residents, the fit to the Local Plan and any impact on surrounding locations, must be considered by the local council as well as potentially the Secretary of State, before a decision can be finalised. We as a board, however, remain very confident that our exciting plans, which we know will add enormous value economically and culturally to Luton as a town, will be passed in due course.
As with any clubs in the EFL lower divisions, we have to run to tight budgets and have to exist with a relatively tight squad and restricted wage bill. This in turn means we have to work hard to try to strengthen the quality and balance of the squad within sensible financial parameters. Our philosophy as a board, which is supported by the manager, is to continue to gradually strengthen, at the right price, the quality and depth of our squad within the existing financial parameters wherever possible, whilst having the financial resources available to take up one-off exceptional player opportunities if they arise, adjust for major injuries and to protect our squad from other club interest where we feel we need to.
With potentially a good second half of the season ahead and your continued excellent support, we can continue to improve our financial health and in turn reinvest those returns in our future both in our facilities and of course a stronger team.
Today is our final match of the year so I would like to thank each and every one of you for your unwavering loyalty over the past year. We have had a good year in which much progress has been made both on and off the field. I look forward to seeing the old ground full today to the rafters with happy Hatters toasting a healthy and prosperous New Year.
I would like to finish by wishing all of you and our club a very successful 2017!