Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Supporters' Trust interviews Gary Sweet - Part one

16 May 2024

Club News

Supporters' Trust interviews Gary Sweet - Part one

16 May 2024

Sponsored by

THE BIG INTERVIEW PART ONE

It’s been an amazing season for all Luton supporters, and we’re delighted that Gary Sweet agreed to take time out to chat to us about all things LTFC – and football. You may not know this, but as one of the four signatories to its foundation, Gary was the first member of Trust in Luton, the precursor to LTST - so who better to look to the past, the present…and the future!

The Trust in its various forms has played a key role in the remarkable rollercoaster ride the club has been on, from the dark days and troubled times to the 2020 consortium taking over in 2008 with Gary at the helm. Back then, one of the effects of dropping out of the Football League was losing all funding for our youth set up – and SoLYD, Supporters of Luton Youth Development, was set up to help bridge the gap with fans chipping in to keep things going.

Now under the auspices of LTST, SoLYD’s role has slightly changed, as Gary explained: “Unlike back in those tougher times, the Club now has the capability to fund and grow the Academy fully, as will soon be demonstrated with a further £3 million-plus going into improving facilities to include pitches, medical, education and the long-awaited training dome as we move towards a higher academy status.

“But that doesn’t mean SoLYD is redundant – far from it! SoLYD makes a significant contribution in areas like trips to tournaments and player welfare – including a hardship fund to assist youngsters who may be struggling with costs like boots and travel. Their work is invaluable.”

Expanding on this point about investment in local youth football and its future, Gary went on to say: “There were a number of areas we felt we wanted to use some of the extra income promotion to the Premier League gave us, not just to boost our own immediate fortunes but to increase our longer-term stability and to benefit the wider town. The Academy is certainly one of the most important areas we could deliver that.”

Moving on to a subject close to all of our hearts, we then asked about progress with the new ground.

“Naturally, most people will think nothing’s more important than Power Court and rightly so – and it was always, always going to be built, regardless of league status,” says Gary. “But within that context, we are now able to think more ambitiously about that too. ‘Bigger, bolder, better’ is the term that’s driving our design team right now, which we’ve recently shared with the Trust. It’s incredibly exciting – we’ll talk more about that next time.”

Pride in our town and communities

There’s so much more good news for the town too.

“Our promotion success has also given a fantastic boost to the town’s profile,” continues Gary. “Our town has always had amazing spirit right across our vibrant diverse communities, and now everyone seems to have so much more confidence and bounce in their step.

“It’s brought us all together even more closely as proud Lutonians – by birth or adoption! – and to enjoy seeing the other benefits that the Club’s growth is bringing to the town. A new economic impact report, soon to be published, will underline just how massively important this Club is to the town’s identity and well-being – just as football clubs large and small should be to their communities all around the country, of course – and there will be no better example than our own!”

Shaping a brighter future for football

Gary then talked about how the club has been able to share its unique experience over the years to help shape a brighter future for football.

“We – the Trust and 2020 – have always fought for a fairer and more sustainable future for the game for that very reason – and I’m proud of the influence Luton Town has been able to bring as we’ve risen. Above all others, we know what it’s like to be forced to learn the hard way, which ultimately defines us. But we’ve also tried to consistently demonstrate a better or different way of doing things, and we’d like to think our methods have somewhat helped shape EFL thinking and we’ve taken those very values into the Premier League. We’d like to think that we’ve demonstrated ideas and ideologies that have opened a few eyes and minds.

The Premier League and the ‘football pyramid’

We asked Gary what he could tell about his experience of working within the Premier League.

“Keeping an open mind is vital. The Premier League may sometimes portrayed as a ‘big, bad monster’, but - and this may surprise some – since having the honour of seeing it from the inside, I can assure you that it is a genuine force-for-good, especially given the pressure from global football authorities that challenge our domestic structure.

“There is a true recognition of the value of our football pyramid, and the fact the Premier League is so globally popular brings so many benefits to the wider English game, which is why it is essential to safeguard that. A significant evolution of the game that is unfolding – the most important since the Premier League was formed – and while certain outcomes may seem odd in isolation, the overhaul needs to run its course and I have faith that it will be for the better.

“It has been a privilege, so far, to be at the top table during this process as a shareholder and you can rest assured that we have taken that responsibility seriously and without forgetting where we’ve come from and we would, of course, very much like to continue to be a part of the action next season.”

Why having a strong LTST is so important

Finally, for this session, Gary went on to talk about the importance of supporters and, with us, the Trust as the game moves forward.

“Broadcasters may pay a majority of the bills, as such, but supporters must still be the fabric of football and right at the heart of every decision that’s made. Without fans it’s not worth the airtime. That’s why a strong Luton Town Supporters’ Trust is essential, standing alongside us as we strive to be a positive, effective influence. And like us, the Trust needs to represent every aspect of our communities. Their diversity, their youth, their future. So please join the Trust if you’re not already a member – and more than that, spread the word to fellow supporters who may not be so engaged. Football, I firmly believe, has a really bright future – and you can be part of it. COYRRH!”

Thanks to Gary for sharing his thoughts – look out for Part Two of this interview in the Fulham programme, the last of the season, where he’ll be sharing exciting news about Power Court and its progress. Our new ground is on its way soon, so in the meantime make the most of our beloved, boisterous and uniquely beautiful Kenilworth Road and raise the roof for the lads tonight!

To join the trust, visit www.lutontownsupporterstrust.com and click on become a member.


Advertisement block


Hatters Player Next Match Tickets Account