Luton Town fans will be celebrating after planning permission was granted for the club to build a new 17,500 seater stadium.
The League One side saw their application for the new stadium granted on Wednesday evening, after waiting almost two-and-a-half-years for approval.
The new stadium is intended to be built at Power Court in the middle of Luton town centre, and reports suggest it could create up to 700 new jobs in the area.
The news will come as a relief to everybody associated with the club, as they have been trying to relocate from Kenilworth Road since the 1950’s.
Naturally, Chief Executive Gary Sweet was delighted with the outcome of the town hall meeting, as Hatters supporters loudly cheered when the decision was made.
Gary Sweet’s comments
“It’s massive, it’s a milestone. The last time this happened would have been around 106, 107 years ago, so it’s quite a momentous occasion. It’s a two legged tie, we’ve won the first one, we’ve now got to win the second one,” Sweet told Three Counties Radio, via Luton’s official site.
“There’s not a linkage as such [between the two applications], it’s just one effectively funds much of the other. You’ve got to think that the piece of land that we are putting the stadium on at Power Court is a horrendous site.
“There used to be two cooling chimneys on that site, there’s a lot of contamination, we want to move the river out, we’ve got to remove the substation, a lot of levelling. So before we even start, the cost of that isn’t far off the cost of a football stadium and nobody else could unlock that piece of land in Luton, and particularly in the Town centre, it needs that revitalisation.
“So unless there is something else to fund that process, then it will remain derelict forever. This is why principally we need Newlands to be passed. No developer is going to have that kind of money to unlock that particular site, “Sweet added.
Premier League aspirations
Although it seems like a pipe dream currently, Sweet believes that the new ground will create the perfect basis for Luton to try and make the Premier League. According to the 2011 census, Luton is the 27th largest settlement in the United Kingdom and has a population of over 200,000 people, which does suggest the town could accommodate top-flight football.
“Luton Town Football Club, we are doing fantastic, aren’t we,” Sweet said.
“And that’s because of the platform, the foundation, the culture we have created over the last 10 years to give the team the right backdrop, the right support and the right management to win games.”
“If we can do that in a new environment, with double the support, you can take the football club up a level plus.
“There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t emulate a Leicester City, absolutely no reason.
“People might think I’m dreaming, but absolutely no reason why we cannot do that,” Sweet confirmed.
Admittedly, you have to admire Sweet’s long-term vision and aspirations for the Bedfordshire-based outfit. And who knows, one day Luton could hit the pinnacle of English football but whilst fans and those associated with the club can dream of such a triumph, you can bet on the winner of the 2018/2019 Europa League here.