Sweet: Promotion to the Premier League would solve Power Court challenges in 'one fell swoop'

Town CEO on how reaching the top flight will benefit the club's aims to move home

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 4th April 2022, 9:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 1:44 pm
How a new stadium at Power Court might look - pic: Lesley Jones Architecture

Luton chief executive Gary Sweet has revealed promotion to the Premier League would solve all of the Hatters’ challenges regarding financing and building a new stadium at Power Court in ‘one fell swoop’.

Back in January 2019, Town received planning permission for a 17,500 all-seater stadium, but have since seen their attempts to move away from Kenilworth Road severely hampered by a number of issues out of their control, most notably the coronavirus pandemic.

In October 2021, 2020 Developments, the property arm of the club, saw revised proposals, without the ground, unanimously approved by the Luton Borough Council development management committee, as they intend to submit plans for the new stadium in the first half of this year.

They are now drawing closer to being unveiled according to Sweet, but with Luton sitting fourth in the Championship, and promotion to the top flight worth well over £100m, plus parachute payments if Town were to only be in the top flight for one season, he admitted that massive boost to the club's coffers would see those problems wiped away.

Writing his programme notes ahead of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Millwall, he said: “I know I sound as repetitive as a Mick Harford joke when I tell you that Power Court plans are coming along nicely - which indeed they are.

“We have had many bumps in the road.

"As if dealing with economic crunches, Brexit, judicial reviews and significant changes to stadia compliance weren’t enough, since planning consent we've had to ensure a seismic crash in retail, a time-halting global pandemic, a major energy crisis and now a global political conflict in Eastern Europe.

“All of these events have taken a material toll on our plans and progress, particular on the cost of the new stadium.

“Many of you, especially those in the building trade, will completely understand the scale and impact of the never-ending increase in the cost of materials and the difficulty with supplies.

“Along with the Brexit and HS2 effect of the labour market, which has squeezed our margins massively on Power Court, we have needed to run a not insignificant, remodelling process over recent months with our design team.

“This, however, we have done without meaningful compromise to the capacity or inherent design, it has naturally meant we’ve needed to defer certain aspects to a latter phase of development, but we’re determined that this will occur in a seamless way when we’re ready.

“Regardless, our detailed plans - which I can confirm that we are now delighted with - are drawing closer to a submission of detailed design this summer, at which point they will be made public.

“A single promotion via the play-offs to the Premier League will, of course, solve all of those challenges in one fell swoop.

“There! I’ve said all those ‘P-words!'

“Way too many supporters have gently whispered one of those ‘P-words’ nervously, almost too afraid to mention it or because it somehow causes some kind of ill-fated catastrophe upon us if mentioned more conspicuously.

“I can positively assure you that, to us, fate just doesn't work in this way.

“As a team, a staff, a board and a club, we’re immensely proud of our achieve and are more than comfortable talk about our progress proudly.

“Potential success needs to be confronted and committed to if it’s to be achieved!”