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FROM THE BOARDROOM PROGRAMME NOTES | GARY SWEET

Here's what Chief Executive Gary Sweet had to say in his programme notes for the Shrewsbury Town game

29 August 2018

Here we go again! The second instalment of a home double-header, and if we all walk out of Kenilworth Road at teatime tonight with the same feeling as we did late on Tuesday, we'll have been treated to another enthralling 90 minutes of League One football.

Before I move on to our performances and results so far this season though, let me start by welcoming Shrewsbury Town to Bedfordshire. The Shrews won promotion in our first season back in the Football League having beaten us 2-0 in Shropshire and drawn 0-0 in front of the Sky cameras here with a certain James Collins leading their line.

They've become a well-established third tier side now and came close to pulling off one of the stories of the season when they reached the playoff final last time out. However, Shrewsbury are much changed this season having recruited a new manager in John Askey, and they come in search of their first victory – something we thankfully managed against Southend in midweek.

Evident

We've already seen a noticeable difference in standard between Leagues Two and One, although travelling to Portsmouth and Peterborough – the two clubs with 100 per cent records so far – as well as hosting the title favourites Sunderland, is as tough a start as we could have imagined. It's evident to the many who have attended so far that we probably deserve more points than we have accumulated.

Even though we know from our outstanding home record last season and unbeaten start to this one that this squad thrives the pressure of expectation here at Kenilworth Road, your patience will be needed. We won't have it all our own way, but we may find that having more adventurous visitors
could suit us even more.

New players Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley and Jorge Grant have already been welcomed in these pages by my colleagues this season, and we have already witnessed the reasons we brought them to the club. Welcome and well done, boys!

Experience

Off the field, we have a few changes too. We are delighted to welcome Paul Watson in to the football club as General Operations and Development Manager, working with me on developing both football and infrastructure projects. Paul's wealth of football and commercial experience will be immensely valuable.
Many of you who came to our public exhibitions a couple of years ago will know our property and planning consultant, Michael Moran.

Having now worked with us for over five years, I'm happy to report that Mike has now joined 2020 Developments permanently as Chief Operations Officer. Alongside me, Mike will continue to manage and progress our projects at Power Court and Newlands Park ensuring our planning applications are delivered.
It is almost becoming an annual event; for me to furnish you with an update as to the progress of our planning applications.

Having just passed our second anniversary of our submission for our schemes at Newlands Park and Power Court, we can feel your frustration and I can be confident that the piece I shall be writing in my first programme notes of next season will be discussing more definite relocation plans.

And, with our progress on the pitch continuing, it is needed more than ever. With over 6,000 season ticket members, two very well attended home games where fewer than five per cent of our seats remained empty, a very impressive 5,750 in total travelling away and two occasions where demand has exceeded supply, there is no doubt we need a bigger facility.

Most of you will know from the local media that the final hurdle – in the shape of consultation on the Council's Retail Impact Assessment, as written by independent third-party specialists – is now closing during the next week.

Once all responses are properly considered by the planning officer, he will then write his committee report recommending to either support or oppose our applications at a Council committee meeting, which should now take place in a few weeks from then.

Challenge

Once a decision is finally made by our Councillors there will still be a few hurdles to jump while greater powers decide whether to review anything before we receive an official decision notice. And even after that, there will also be several design details and commercial agreements we'll need to reach with development partners before we put a spade in the ground, so, whilst we work as hard and speedily as we possibly can, we will still ask you to remain patient and faithful.

In summary, whilst the process has been prolonged due to the challenge placed upon the Council's planning department and scrutiny of various third parties, we're very happy with the position we are currently in and we're really looking forward to taking the next step. It's not a matter of 'if', it's just a matter of 'when'.

Meanwhile, we still have a duty to look after our lovely old girl, Kenilworth Road. Due to EFL rules we still have regulations to comply with. This week, we signed a new ten-year rolling lease with Luton Council. This lease not only gives us the required security of tenure throughout our relocation phase, but it also sees an end to Luton Town's rent 'in-lieu or community contribution' contract as we have amicably agreed a fair commercial sum for our tenancy.

There's nothing to read between the lines here. Upon our relocation this lease will terminate allowing for the site to be developed for much needed community use and housing, as determined.

Proud

Finally, on behalf of everyone at the Club, I would like to formally congratulate vice president Emma Banks on the announcement that she will receive the MITS Award 2018, in recognition for her outstanding services to the global music industry.

Coincidentally, this is the identical award won by another vice president, Rob Stringer, only last year. Not only are we so proud to have such wonderful representation within the music industry but we are very confident no other club can boast having two MITS winners as such strong supporters.

Indeed, our strong links into the music business has also been boosted by the arrival of Ian Montone as a new vice president to go with the ever-welcome support we receive from the likes of Cerys Matthews, Steve Abbott and the up-coming talent that is Tom Grennan, who we know well since his time with our academy. On that musical note, let's have plenty more of the supportive songs that bounced around the Kenny on Tuesday night. It was a great atmosphere that I know our players respond into on the pitch.

Come on you Hatters – more of the same today, please!


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