Luton CEO reveals £3m to be spent on improving facilities for the Hatters' Academy

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Chunk of Premier League money will go towards new pitches

Luton CEO Gary Sweet has announced that a further £3m will be spent upgrading the facilities for the Hatters’ Academy as they continue to push towards Category Two status.

Town are currently at Category Three, as they lack the required air dome required to move up to the next level, which would see the club able to join the Premier League’s U23 development games programme. Luton have resubmitted a proposal for an Indoor Academy Training Facility to be built on the playing field to the rear of Barnfield Academy South in Cutenhoe Road this week, as it is now hoped that planning permission will finally be granted by Luton Borough Council after they rejected initial plans back in 2021.

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In an interview with the Luton Town Supporters' Trust, Sweet spoke about the investment which has been made possible following last season’s promotion to the Premier League, and also the role that SoLYD, Supporters of Luton Youth Development, which was set up in 2008 when Luton lost all funding for their youth set-up after dropping out of the Football League, still plays, saying: “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.

Hatters CEO Gary Sweet - pic: Liam SmithHatters CEO Gary Sweet - pic: Liam Smith
Hatters CEO Gary Sweet - pic: Liam Smith

"The Academy is certainly one of the most important areas we could deliver that. 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.”

Although Town will see their season-long stint in the Premier League come to an end on Sunday afternoon after their final game of the season against Fulham, speaking about his experiences of working within the top flight this term, Sweet added: “Keeping an open mind is vital. The Premier League may sometimes be 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.

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“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.”

Finally, giving an update on the club’s ongoing efforts to build a new ground at Power Court, Sweet added: “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. 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. It’s incredibly exciting.”

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