Hatters CEO Gary Sweet spoke to the local media by video call yesterday afternoon on a range of subjects from player wages, any potential return to playing football, the NHS and the importance of health and the lifeblood of season ticket sales to the club.
The first part of the press call is now available on iFollow Hatters, which can be viewed by clicking on the image above.
Speaking prior to the EFL and PFA’s joint statement yesterday afternoon, when asked about the latest with potential pay cuts for players, Gary said: “Player wages comprise over half of our cost base, so we are in a situation where a very significant proportion of our annual income – especially with associated costs, not just games – will be lost permanently, not just saved for another day.
“We absolutely need to reduce our cost base, and therefore footballers have to help in that. Every single member of staff probably needs to help in that in some form. Every supplier probably needs to help in that in some form, if we are to continue healthily after this.
“With regards to players and the PFA, the PFA and the EFL have not come to an agreement. I think the principal idea was that they were going to provide effectively a Championship-wide, and maybe League One and Two-wide, decision between the two as to what clubs should be recommending to their players, with the PFA’s support.
“The PFA did not agree with that. They felt that clubs should be negotiating that independently. Of course they have to, because they are on individual contracts. It’s not just about the squad either, it’s about individual players. So it’s up to us now to negotiate that with our squad.
“We are doing that with our squad currently. We’ve got a good bunch of lads actually, and they’ve connected with the club here, so I can see that we will have fewer problems than any other club in the Championship, certainly, but they are on a lower wage base and I really feel for them.
“I feel for anyone who is having to contribute in this, because this situation is no fault of anybody’s. We are in this awkward position where unless we cut that cost base, then Luton Town is going to suffer badly going forward and actually if we can’t cut it at all, it won’t survive – quite simply.”
On the topic of a return to action, and potential testing of players for Covid-19, Gary stressed that it is the frontline workers in the NHS who take “absolute” priority at the moment, and should continue to do so.
“The health service, who are the absolute heroes of ours now – it’s not the footballers, it’s the doctors and nurses that are risking their lives – they of course come first,” said Sweet.
“The one thing in all of this, football is a very, very important product for society and it’s a very, very important product for the government.
“The government is supporting football and wants football to come out of this absolutely intact for the sanity of our society, and so the leagues have a hotline into Cobra, or into the Home Office and into DCMS, where they’re getting guidance all the way.
“Football would not make a decision, and could not make a decision to take testing kits ahead of the NHS, so this is way beyond the Luton Town problem – one that I have to be concerned about as I, like many around the country, are very concerned about the lack of testing and the lack of PPE that’s available for doctors and nurses.
“We ‘ve tried to get involved in products and tried to increase productions in those items, but when we come back, whenever that might be, it needs to be safe, it needs to ensure that it doesn't impact on the resources on the NHS and those front-line workers, but it does need to happen.”
THE SECOND PART OF GARY’S PRESS CALL WILL BE AVAILABLE TO WATCH ON IFOLLOW HATTERS ON THURSDAY.