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GARY SWEET | AGREEMENT REACHED WITH PLAYERS ON SALARY DEFERRAL

Town CEO on the latest with the squad and Nathan Jones' return

28 May 2020

During today’s Zoom press conference to announce Nathan Jones’ return as Hatters manager, CEO Gary Sweet revealed that the Town playing squad have agreed to take a salary deferral.

Talks with senior players, on behalf of the squad (some of whom are pictured in the gallery above, training this morning in the first session of the day), have been ongoing for several weeks and today the club can confirm that an agreement has been reached that will be backdated to the start of May.

This means that all everyone at the club, including staff, have agreed to contribute to help the club through such a difficult period for cashflow with no matchday income since February.

Sweet said: “Our players now have agreed a salary deferral which we are happy with and has taken place from the first of this month. That means that everybody now in the club is contributing to this coronavirus situation, so we’re in a good shape.

“It is absolutely vital and we were always confident that would happen. They were always willing to do it. It was always about the value and how, the terms and the conditions, but ultimately the PFA have got a lot to answer for, in my opinion.

“I think the guidance the players got from the PFA has been pretty haphazard and quite unprofessional, because they have given authority for some clubs to go with deferrals with their squads, but other clubs not.

“We had to go through a process of demonstrating our financial statements and cash flows to Deloitte on behalf of the PFA, in order to get their approval to recommend that to the players.

“As a player, if you’re signed up to what is effectively one of the strongest unions in the world, you’re going to have to listen to them, so I don’t blame the players as much as I do the PFA.

“I’ve been having trouble with them for weeks now so it’s not a problem to me, but I’m pleased it is sorted and it will need to be an ongoing conversation, of course.

“We don’t know what’s happening in terms of unlocking protocols for the nation in a month’s time, so we have to follow those guidelines and ultimately the objective here is for us to financially get to a position where we are safely playing in front of a crowd again.”

On the future of members of the Hatters squad who are out of contract at the end of next month, Sweet added: "We don’t need to make any decisions on July players until June 23rd, so it would be foolish for us as a club to make decisions without a manager.

"So we have a view on what we’d like to do, but ultimately this decision is going to be led by the manager now, so that is something we would probably have to answer another time.

"It’s safe to say clearly that the transfer window isn’t going to be open between now and July so first of all, it’s not easy for players to leave and find another club when they’re not allowed to do that.

"But also it’s not easy for us to go and get another player, so the ideal would be to keep the squad together through the end of the season, that’s the ideal position.

"We have a financial consideration on that of course and as players have now taken a deferral, we need to be really prudent with how we’re spending money in July on their behalf."

Sweet was also asked about the terms of Nathan Jones' return, and explained: “It's a long term contract, we don’t do anything by halves.

"I think it would be wrong for us to appoint anybody for a nine-game period and why this is so important to us is the fact that we’ve repaired this is a critical element of us being able to commit to Nathan, and him to commit to us, our acceptance of that.

"We’ve got here sitting in front of us the best manager we’ve had in decades, and if you put the personal things aside, if you are disgruntled by the way he left - which we were - if you put that aside, we’ve got the best manager that we could possibly have trying to keep us up in the Championship.

"So why wouldn't we want that to be a long term thing? In our conversations, we’ve often discussed situations like when Eddie Howe took a year's sabbatical at Burnley from Bournemouth, and went back and effectively became part of the furniture there.

"This could happen here at Luton. We never wanted Nathan to leave at the point of time that he did. We always felt that Nathan was going to be a long term manager for us at that time, so he’s admitted that he made a gross misjudgement, and we’re happy with that explanation. So let's put it back on, let's make sure this is a proper commitment."

On mistakes the Welshman may have made in the early days of him leaving the Hatters for Stoke, Sweet let Jones respond himself to a question about a now infamous picture before adding his own view to emphasise his support for the 47-year-old.

“We can spend a lot of time unearthing and digging up specifics of that episode during that period, and there are times in my life when I’ve had bad weeks, I’ve made mistakes - whether they lasted for 24 hours, seven days, sometimes a year - and I've been really, really thankful that people have forgiven me for that and given me another opportunity to re-patch that relationship.

"That’s what we’re doing here. Sometimes you’re better not going back over old ground in a forensic manner to do that.

"The board and I, we have covered all of that. We have gone through, with Nathan directly, a lot of those intricate details of the method of his departure at the time and we have now repaired that.

"All I’m asking is for supporters to have the faith and trust in us that that’s been repaired and people learn by their mistakes. Nathan’s admitted he made a mistake. We want him to learn from that and we’re giving him the opportunity for a second chance.

"Now whether you call him lucky, or us lucky, will depend on what happens over nine games. So that’s where the focus has to be. Whatever people feel at the moment, this is the scenario, this is the environment we’re living in, where we have to compromise everything in our lives.

"The most important thing for our football club right now is the next nine games and staying in the Championship. If you want to vent a spleen, do it in the Championship, or even if it’s League One next season. Let's just focus on those nine games."


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