Luton reluctantly postpone Burnley opener to ensure Kenilworth Road is ready for the Premier League

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Town’s first home top flight match will be against West Ham

Luton have announced their first home game of the Premier League season against Burnley has been postponed as they look to update Kenilworth Road to the standards required for the top flight.

After reaching the first tier of English football when beating Coventry City in the play-off final at Wembley, it meant that to play host to matches in the new division, the Hatters would have to completely rebuild the Bobbers Stand at a cost of around £12m.

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Although they are ahead of schedule in what CEO Gary Sweet labelled a ‘gargantuan task’, chairman David Wilkinson revealed last night that they had the approval to rearrange the game, originally scheduled for Saturday, August 19, if they were unable to finish all the building work in time.

A club statement this evening, said: “Kenilworth Road is undergoing a programme of extensive ground improvements to be ready to host Premier League football, including the construction of a new stand to meet broadcast and media requirements.

“Whilst ongoing work is progressing extremely well and currently ahead of schedule, the Premier League understandably requires guarantees to its fixture schedule within sufficient time to advise supporters and broadcasters of any changes in advance.

“Due to the extent of the project, the Club cannot absolutely guarantee supporters that any future unforeseen issues would not cause any delay potentially impacting upon the scheduled opening game at home.

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“Therefore, together with the Premier League and Burnley FC, all parties felt this was a sensible outcome which gives supporters of both teams sufficient time to plan for what will now be a free weekend and subsequently make arrangements for travel for the new date.

Luton began work on the Bobbers Stand back in May - pic: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesLuton began work on the Bobbers Stand back in May - pic: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Luton began work on the Bobbers Stand back in May - pic: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

“The new date will be shared by both clubs to their supporters at the earliest available opportunity.”

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet continued: “The joint decision to delay this fixture is regrettable, especially given the amazing progress that continues to be made on our construction works.

"Our current programme is indeed on time, but there is no additional contingency and therefore we can’t give a cast-iron guarantee at this stage that a problem outside of our control, however minor, wouldn’t force a postponement further down the line and inconveniencing supporters of both clubs.

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“Although this news will be a disappointment, this will make the matchday experience even greater for fans when they do get to come back.

“We would like to thank the Premier League and Burnley for their help in arriving at this practical decision.”

The postponement means that the Hatters first home match of the league campaign will be the visit of West Ham United on Friday, September 1, an 8pm kick-off live on Sky Sports.

Sweet also wanted to praise those who live nearby to the ground and Luton Borough Council too for their support, adding: “All works being carried out have been carefully planned to minimise disruption for our neighbours during the construction period and minimise impact on match-days.

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“We would particularly like to thank our neighbours in the local Bury Park community who are showing so much understanding with the work taking place on their doorsteps.

"Without their support this whole process would be so much tougher.

“Additionally, we would like to take this opportunity to give our gratitude to our very supportive Council in helping us with community engagement to allow our time and efforts to focus on minimising timescale and disruption.

"As I have mentioned before, the challenge for our relatively small business has to scale up so quickly is a such gargantuan task in every aspect that is taking every minute of our day and every ounce of our energy but, together with our excellent team of specialist contractors, we know the end result will all be worthwhile.

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“Looking positively, as well as the required work to make our stadium compliant, which the Premier League are being so supportive of, we are also making a number of non-mandatory improvements to Kenilworth Road in both home and away areas that will that will improve the matchday experience for everyone, particularly for home and away disabled supporters, broadcasters, journalists and supporters in certain areas of the ground.

"This does mean these works should also be complete in time for the new date.”