Luton Town have further enhanced their relationship with Crawley Green FC with the announcement that the Spartan South Midlands League club will play their home games at The Brache training ground from next season.
Crawley Green, who are the only Luton based team to play at Step 5 or above of the National League System, have been trying since 2008 to get permission to build a suitable stadium - a decade in which they have played their first team games at Barton Rovers' Sharpenhoe Road ground.
Crawley Green will use the new all-weather surface the Hatters installed as part of the renovations of The Brache last year. To comply with national ground grading criteria Crawley Green will complete the remaining requirements, which will include new changing rooms, dugouts, turnstile and spectator standing area.
Tony Talbot, Chairman of Crawley Green, stated: “We would like to thank Gary Sweet and Kevan Platt and everyone at Luton Town FC for firstly affording us this opportunity and then their support in making this happen.
“In the past we have seen a number of ex-Crawley Green players go on to play for Luton, but our partnership has really continued to grow in recent years. It’s with great satisfaction for us that we are currently seeing James Justin starring for the first team. In addition the recently transferred Tyreeq Bakinson and four of the current U18s team, Josh Neufville, Joe Mead, Ciaren Jones and Michael Shamalo all came through our youth system.
“A town the size of Luton needs a successful professional club, as well as teams playing in the national league pyramid. This gives our talented youngsters a pathway to development, without having to go outside the borough to develop.
“In addition, underneath these clubs is a large community hub, which affords lots of youngsters the opportunity to play football. These community hubs ensure all young people have the opportunity to participate in football in a safe supportive environment, which preserves the dignity and respect of the individual regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, religion, disability, income and any other social deprivation.
“With Government statistics showing a concerning rise in childhood obesity throughout the UK, these community hubs encourage our children to stay active and engage in physical activity. This all helps promote health, self-confidence and importantly social cohesion, and hopefully leads to the wider benefits in raising standards.”
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet said: “We see ourselves as guardians of elite football in our region and part of that responsibility is to help – wherever possible – other local, aspirational clubs develop and thrive, staying at the core of their roots.
“The challenges faced at Crawley Green were difficult and, with the great relationship we’ve had over the years, having recruited numerous young players from their excellent development structure, we’re proud to help Crawley Green retain a local home for their competitive games, just as we are happy to utilise our existing training facility at perhaps the only time when it won’t get used.”