So, as a Hatters fan, we dare to dream. Sat 3rd in the Championship, our highest league position as this time of the season since 1992 and our highest position at any point of the season since September 2005. Many people are questioning and in some case mocking ‘The Kenny’ and whether it is fit for the Holy Grail of the Premier League. Firstly, lets make it clear, this is not all fans of all clubs in the Premier League BUT it is a decent proportion that feel it should be massive stadiums and amazing/beautiful facilities for fans.
This article is aimed at going through what Luton will have to do and what they may want to do if they are promoted to the Premier League until we get Power Court built, so, lets get to it…
VAR Cameras Installed TRUTH To be in the Premier League, you must have these installed as well as offer a live feed to the referee. The main stream does not have to be sent to an official at the ground and can (and often is) sent to St George’s Park where a VAR official looks at multiple angles. To get these angles, numerous cameras will need to be installed inside the ground and this may cause some seating to be lost if they can not be hung as they would mean being on the Astro on the section between the pitch and the stands. The view of these fans near these would be compromised. Cost: The cost of this to the club is unknown due to the number of cameras, angles and scaffolding needed.
Big Screens for Replays Myth This is not an essential for Premier League grounds and, strangely, there is no need to show the replay or VAR views to the fans at the ground. Importantly, Liverpool and Manchester United do not have big screens at their grounds and the information is announced to the crowd or they see the referees decision when they gesture it with their arms/body etc Cost: This is a huge saving as large screens for stadiums can range in cost from £2.5 million to £30 million depending on size and quality (4k, HD etc)
Goal line technology Fact (but have it) The club do have this (Thanks Simon Pitts for info). This has been in place since they joined the Championship and was used as recently at the QPR home game. Cost: Nothing as it is in place.
Pitch Size (Too Small) Myth The clubs pitch sits on the smaller size and is certainly wide for standard but pitch sits within the rules and if anything, it may be an advantage to the club as they are used to the slightly squarey/rectangular shape (if that is even a phrase!).
For the record, the pitch must be between 90-120 metres long and 50-100 metres wide (as long as it is rectangular). Luton’s pitch is 100 metres x 72 metres. Cost: Nothing as no need to change or amend it
All Seater Stadium Fact The rules of the Premier League state all grounds must be all seater. The club has this already and so no need for change. Any additional expansion (can they squeeze some more seats at the top of the Kenilworth?) would need to be seats and not standing. The changes and trials of safe standing are just that, authorised trials and not legally allowed. Cost: No change unless they want to expand to have more seats
Upgrade media seating and TV studios Myth The average across the Premier League is to have 56 media attend each game (mixture of print, TV and audio). If the club wishes to do this, it would be a good idea as it allows for more advertising worldwide. Often, what has happened is either it is all done on the pitch or used the nearest corporate box to the Kenilworth End to house the BBC, ITV or Sky presenters. This may be the most logical way of managing the need. Cost: To amend this would involve either building new facilities (cost depends on size and location) or giving seats from fans to the media, which would cost the club due to lost ticket revenue.
Add capacity to touchline area Myth There are no rules on the size of the benches in world football. At present when expanded squads have been needed, the club puts in place extra seating outside of the box area. This is something which they may chose to do as the squads/substitute sizes are increasing as well as coaching staff.
The main reason for a change in the structure and layout of the benches are the 4th official and TV screens for replays. This is needed to allow it to occur without interference from the managers of either team. Cost: Last time they were moved across about 25 years ago from the Main Stand to be embedded inside the Executive Boxes, it cost in the region of £500,000. An estimate to change this would be better carried out by a builder!
Entrance to Oak Road Myth It is up to the club how they wish to structure their stadium and lay the turnstiles out. The likelihood is most games would be sell outs and so no need for tickets on the gate. This does make movement of fans and management of fans easier but the sell outs would be every week but most of the Championship away ends have been sold out this season, so the club can clearly manage the numbers. In short – as long as Health and Safety is maintained, no change is needed! Cost: Nothing!
What should they refuse to do? Upgrade changing rooms – No way. Through numerous interviews on My Best Eleven, and being in there myself, the dressing room is cramped as it is…even the home one! A small and tight dressing room would create an atmosphere and even make some of the ‘prima donna’ of the League more uncomfortable! Remove the net – Never. If the club did that, firstly, how would all those kids on Ivy Road and Beech Road ever learn how to play football with the free donated footballs every game. Maybe they should tighten the net but it is a feature which allows fans to measure the ‘hoof’ and height of a clearance as well. Open Beech Path – but what about the 86th minute announcement?!? If any fan can tell me when the club last opened this path after a game, I would love to hear from you. The inevitable announcement over the speakers has been a feature of the games whether we win, lose or draw. It has become a kind of ritual. Oh, and lets be honest, the police would probably close it to keep fans apart anyway!
By Andrew McMellon (@andrew_mc84)
Host of My Best Eleven Podcast, Journalist and Pundit (https://mybesteleven.podbean.com/) (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCosPHLqTf7KuZfKVtlVLy0Q)
Source for the article include the following websites: https://sgsa.org.uk/football-league-capacity-requirements/#:~:text=The%20Football%20League%20requires%20that,to%20be%20increased%20to%201%2C000).