Hatters CEO sets out timescale for Luton Town to move into their new stadium at Power Court

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Sweets updates supporters on ground

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet is hopeful that the club will be able to move into its new stadium at Power Court by the start of the 2028-29 campaign at the very latest.

The Hatters have been looking to build a new ground at the site since receiving planning permission from Luton Borough Council back in January 2019, some five years ago now. However, a number of issues outside of the club’s control has led to huge delays in being able to do so, one of the major issues requiring an existing power sub-station to be moved by UK Power Networks (UKPN).

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With that now looking like to happen in the upcoming months, Sweet revealed it could be next year that the foundations for the stadium are in place, with the ground hopefully ready for the 2027-28 campaign, although if not, definitely the season after. Writing in a column for the Luton Town Supporters’ Trust in the match-day programme for Sunday’s clash with Fulham, he said “We completely understand certain frustrations and we are as anxious as anyone to get it done and it’s not an easy question to answer.

Hatters CEO Gary Sweet shakes hands with a Luton supporter at Kenilworth Road on Sunday - pic: Liam SmithHatters CEO Gary Sweet shakes hands with a Luton supporter at Kenilworth Road on Sunday - pic: Liam Smith
Hatters CEO Gary Sweet shakes hands with a Luton supporter at Kenilworth Road on Sunday - pic: Liam Smith

"There are so many complexities with a project like this, in a location like this and at a time like this including some outside of our control. But if we’re looking at concrete facts, groundworks have already started and, in-sync with UKPN’s targeted schedule on the sub-station, piling is currently scheduled to start in the first half of 2025.

“That’s the foundations being laid. After that you’re looking at approximately a two year build time. Construction of the stadium can begin before the sub-station move is finished and we won’t need to wait for the residential development to start either. So that gives you some idea - targeting an opening for the 2027/28 season but must allow for test events and training and as it would be a nightmare to move mid-season we may be pushed to 2028/29.”

Going into more detail on just what has hampered the project getting off the ground, Sweet admitted his own frustrations at events he could do nothing about, continuing: “Yes, it’s taking longer than we wanted it to take which bothers me more than anybody - but no-one could have predicted the five years the country, indeed the world, has experienced and the huge impact on all our lives and plans and is still affecting markets.

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“Some of the issues you’ll have heard about before, and for good reason, because they have affected every major development in the UK. Covid, Brexit, the war in Ukraine, massive interest rate rises, supply chains being hit and material costs rocketing sky high. The cost of everything has more-or-less doubled, so we’ve had to adapt and be agile and then we have the matter of the UKPN sub-station being moved.

“UKPN have also been hit by those problems, so they’ve had to reschedule their programme too. That’s totally beyond our control unfortunately and as the sub-station supplies power to the whole town, we can’t just knock the thing down! It’s all under way now, but the project is ridiculously complex, so we’re going to need to be patient. That won’t stop us cracking on with the works we can progress, including site levels and opening up the river and as the development sector begins to recover. But you can have faith. It is happening. It always was. Be 100% sure of that.”

With Luton winning promotion to the Premier League last season, earning themselves a windfall of around £100m in the process, then it means Town won’t have to worry about going up in stages of capacity once the ground is built either, instead opting for the biggest they can have from the start. Sweet said: “The extra income from Premier League promotion has enabled us to go bigger, better, bolder.

"Originally it was to be built in three phases, starting at 17,500 capacity, but now we’re going straight to our maximum allowable capacity. And because we’ll save time, material, money and upheaval avoiding that, we’ve really been able to enhance the design too, with some of those extra touches which make a real difference.

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“Funding was always in place though. We sold the land at Newlands at the optimum time and price in the logistics boom and the delays have enabled us to finely-tune the way we work to cut out layers of cost. As you know, we try to do things differently, and that applies to this too. We’re not getting into the position that has damaged so many clubs and developers, with debts related to new ground builds in the wrong location. Power Court should eventually be debt-free with income from the residential completion.”

Asked if he wished Luton had ever considered a different venue due to all the issues they have been met with, the CEO added: “We looked at more than 30 potential sites and Power Court was the only option for us, despite the obvious complication, which we were fully aware of. Why? Because it’s right at the heart of our town centre, it’s where a football club should be, at the heart of its communities, that’s what our club culture is all about. It’s going to be our home for generations to come and we’re committed to it being the best it can be in the best location.”

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