Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet has revealed that the Championship club is making plans to ensure Kenilworth Road meets Premier League standards in the event that the team achieves promotion to the top flight of English football.
Luton is currently fourth in the Championship and will move up to third with a win at Peterborough United tonight. With seven matches of the season remaining, Luton is one of the form teams in the division and a play-off finish looks achievable.
Kenilworth Road has a capacity of 10,300, which is the lowest in the Championship. Luton is planning a new 17,500-seat stadium but Sweet has addressed the need to upgrade Kenilworth Road, which opened in 1905, if the club is to return to the top tier after a 30-year absence.
Writing in his programme notes ahead of Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Millwall, Sweet said: “Despite our #teamslikeluton social handle or the numerous images posted online of back gardens along Oak Road, we must absolutely embrace our success and discuss the eventualities and plan for both Championship and Premier League football being played at Kenilworth Road next season or perhaps beyond.
“This isn’t pronounced with an ounce of over-confidence or arrogance but, as a business, we simply must plan for both scenarios – and indeed we are. Whatever the outcome, we will be ready. As a stark reminder, we are currently surveying our facilities for Premier League compliance and to even prepare to make our old girl fit for purpose for the top table is not an insignificant task, especially for the demanding broadcast and media requirements.
“Significant work will have to be planned for, ready to pull the trigger (should we be the lucky ones), to then be completed in record time during the close season. Quite simply if ignored now, Kenilworth Road would be incompliant and substandard, not just ‘quaint’.
“We simply will not allow for Luton Town or Luton to be seen as sub-standard, and if we can achieve a satisfactory level of compliance in the eyes of the Premier League with minimal dispensations, there is no reason why our charming environment shouldn’t be embraced by those other member clubs as an enhancement and broadening of the rich tapestry of venues to visit.”
In January, Newlands Park, a mixed-use development deemed crucial for the successful delivery of Luton’s new stadium, was approved. Luton said in October that it intended to submit final plans for its new 17,500-seat stadium in the first half of 2022.
Sweet has provided an update on the new stadium plans, which he says are “coming along nicely” despite “bumps in the road” such as Brexit, judicial reviews and the pandemic. Sweet added that the club has needed to run a remodelling process in recent months, albeit without compromising the capacity or design of the stadium.
“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,” he said.
“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.”