Andre Gray deal was a ‘godsend’ for Luton

Luton striker Andre Gray celebrates winning the Conference title
Luton striker Andre Gray celebrates winning the Conference title

The deal to sell striker Andre Gray to Brentford back in June 2014 has been hailed as a ‘godsend’ by Town chief executive Gary Sweet.

Hatters pocketed an initial sum of around £600,000 from the original transfer for the striker, before having their coffers swelled when he joined Burnley for £9m in August 2015, going on to help the Clarets reach, and then stay in the Premier League this season.

Andre Gray scores yet another goal for the Hatters

Andre Gray scores yet another goal for the Hatters

Although that final windfall won’t increase Luton manager Nathan Jones’ transfer budget ahead of the new campaign, Sweet said: “We had kind of banked that anyway, without taking too many risks, we knew Burnley would stay up and we’re up to nearly two and a half million on Andre now.

“That’s been a terrific move for us and a terrific move for him and that’s probably where it’s positive all around.

“If had had stayed at the time, you’d have had a disgruntled footballer because you’re stopping his progression and that’s what you don’t want.

“There’s always a time for players to move on and that was the right time for Andre.

That’s been a terrific move for us and a terrific move for him and that’s probably where it’s positive all around.

Gary Sweet

“I don’t think anyone around here would regret that with the windfall.

“What those windfalls do for us is ease the burden on our shareholders as while we’re at Kenilworth Road, we’re a loss making business.

“So the only way we can avoid pulling on our shareholders to put a lot more money in is by making money on footballers, going on a good cup run, so the Andre thing has been a godsend to that situation.”

Sweet went on to praise those who keep the club running financially, but is well aware deals similar to the Gray transfer are crucial to help out whenever possible.

He continued: “We’ve got wonderful shareholders, people who put money in are always there, always committed. I’ve said it before, it’s the perfect balance between having a fan owned club and having a commercially owned club.

“We’re loyal to the club, loyal to the town, I’m loyal to them. I think all supporters need to be in some way loyal to them as well because of what they’ve given. So wherever we can ease that burden, is really, really important, as long as it doesn’t weaken the side, that’s the key thing to it.”

With Town at Kenilworth Road, they will always struggle to make a profit until a long-awaited move to Power Court, although Sweet thinks they are starting to get on top of the situation.

He added: “Our losses are shrinking every year, that’s the one good thing and our losses are much more manageable now than they have been, to the extent that it’s really not a big worry for us anymore.

“But they’re still losses and big six figure losses, so we do need to continue to manage that. I do see a year before we move where we will break even, although that’s not to say that we can continue here at Kenilworth Road, as we absolutely can’t.”

“But there are little opportunities that will probably come our way, whether it’s a cup run a player sale, moving up a league that will help as well, the culmination of those things.

“Plus little commercial add ons we’re introducing in the business, that will just add 50k here, 100k there, they will just add to it.

“I think there will be a day, and the support clubs are getting from the Football League is commercially more sound now than it probably has been, so there’s little bits of extra here and there.

“The Checkatrade Trophy, while that wasn’t a popular competition last year, it’s actually quite vital for a lot of League Two clubs now.

“If you look at the funding that some of them get, just to top that up, keep them a little bit more competitive, just to stop them losing more money, that’s us included, so I can see a year between now and our move, where we probably will break even, once or twice.”