Luton CEO: Promotion to the Premier League would 'progress' but not 'accelerate' Town's move to Power Court

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Sweet with the latest update on Town’s new ground

Luton chief executive Gary Sweet has revealed that although promotion to the Premier League might not accelerate Luton’s plans to move into a new ground at Power Court, it would certainly progress them.

The Hatters received planning permission for their new home back in January 2019, but have seen their efforts to start building delayed by the Covid pandemic, which meant a substantial rise in costs for materials and other such necessities.

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Relocating a substation on the site has been one of the main hurdles to overcome too, UK Power Networks submitting plans for a new one back in February.

An artists impression of how Power Court could look - pic: Leslie Jones ArchitectureAn artists impression of how Power Court could look - pic: Leslie Jones Architecture
An artists impression of how Power Court could look - pic: Leslie Jones Architecture

Promotion to the top flight with a win over Coventry City in the play-off final on Saturday would bring around £100m to the Hatters, although about a tenth of that would have go on redeveloping the Bobbers Stand at Kenilworth Road, plus replacing the floodlights.

Although Sweet confirmed that Luton don’t need to reach the top flight for the new ground to become a reality, and that all the finance hadn’t been raised just yet, he discussed just what going up would mean for the plans, saying: “Name me one single stadium that has been built with 100 percent of the finance has been in place?

“It doesn’t happen. Of course the funding isn’t all in place.

"Do we know we are going to get it? Yes.

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“Promotion may not be able to accelerate it because it is now moving at a rapid pace anyway.

“We have had some deferment of the programme because of things like pandemics have happened as well and one or two other things around the world, but there has also been a huge substation that has got to be moved.

"Planning is in on that and work has effectively started on that, so that has been the one thing.

"That is right underneath one of the stands, so unless that gets moved, then there is no stadium in that particular location.

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"It was always going to get moved, it is being done, there is a programme on that and the key element to when we can finish the stadium is effectively when they clear the site, switch on the new substation, we take out the old substation, plus nine months, that is the real milestone date in our mind.

“Will Premier League action accelerate it?

"Probably not but it will progress it more in terms of we probably will have all of our funding in place, number one, but also I think we will probably look at it with a little more ambition.

"There are two or three phases of the development of the stadium.

"We will start at roughly 19,200 to begin with.

"If we were to see Premier League action we might move to the next phase so that will be one of the impacts.”

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Asked for an update on just where the club were regarding the new ground, Sweet continued: “We are just entering pre-app (pre-application) stage of a detailed application that depending upon our workload over the next three months will happen over the next three months.

"Forgive me if it might be four if we’ve got another few things to do, like develop another football stadium, but that is the timescale.

"We expect to get a decision on that by the end of the year, the day we get a decision on that, within a few days or weeks we’ll be starting work.”

Sweet also revealed that the club have had to fork out a fair amount of money on plans to rebuild the Bobbers Stand if Town triumph at Wembley in what has been deemed the richest game in club football.

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On what that has cost so far, he added: “The plans were in place last year.

"We snuck through a couple of applications last year which were all valid, but in terms of envelopes and scale and size and everything, demolition, we got through so some of it is ready.

"We’re having to up the ante on that this year and we’re still doing some of it right now.

"There is a meeting going on with about six people in another room regarding that.

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“We’ve had to do a bit of work this year and over the past two years it’s probably cost us half a million to give it a go, to get to this stage which is money that others clubs might have to spend 10 or 20 grand.

"It’s probably cost half a million as it’s a particular problem, it’s a particular challenge for us as it has come out of our pockets today, now.”