Hatters CEO reveals Luton have been forced to give up on hopes of welcoming fans back against Derby

Sweet admits there's 'not enough time' for Hatters to get ready

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 1:17 pm
Luton had hoped to welcome some fans back for this weekend's game against Derby County

Luton chief executive Gary Sweet has revealed that the Hatters have had to give up on their hopes of welcoming supporters back into Kenilworth Road for the first time since February at the weekend.

The English Football League (EFL) confirmed on Tuesday they will continue to stage pilot events with up to 1,000 fans at matches this weekend, following approval from the government.

Clubs were asked to put in requests by Tuesday in order for their plans to be signed off in time, and after confirming Town had indeed made such an application for their Championship clash against Derby County, speaking exclusively to the Luton News, Sweet said: "Yes, we put ourselves forward yesterday.

"We received the email at around midday from the EFL asking for clubs to volunteer, with the support of our SAG (Safety Advisory Group) and the SGSA (Sports Grounds Safety Authority), we responded within the hour because we're desperate to get supporters back.

"But there is a lot of preparation work to do and unfortunately, despite chasing, we have heard nothing from the League.

"This doesn't give us enough time to get ready now unfortunately, so we can't do it.

"I understand that the EFL are beholden to DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) but to request clubs to offer and not back up quickly, knowing there's such little time, is ridiculous.

"It's giving supporters hope where there isn't any.

"Needless to say, we are doing everything possible to get our supporters back as soon as possible and to do so safely."

Speaking earlier in the week, Town boss Nathan Jones had hoped that he would be able to see fans back at Kenilworth Road as soon as possible.

He said: "Fans are the lifeblood and when I say that, I mean without fans then clubs will really struggle to survive.

"Unless you have got a high billionaire owner, you won’t survive so eventually fans will need to come back otherwise everything will be a struggle.

"For me personally and for the club, of course we do because Luton’s fans really are the lifeblood of everything.

"They've been through tough times, I know that, I realised that when I came back and I realised that before I came back.

"We’ve missed them, for probably half an hour of the first game it was probably easier for me to come back without fans if I’m being brutally honest because you never know what the reaction might have been, but I think now the water is under the bridge and now is the time we do move forward.

"With fans, we are a better club with fans in the stadium.

"The Kenny is the most wonderful place with a full house and we have some real big games coming up that we can only pray our fans could be there for.