• Saturday, September 30, 2023


Luton’s Asian businesses set to cash in on football boom

By: Nadeem Badshah

ASIAN businesses in Luton are ready to reap the benefits of the local football club’s first ever season in the Premier League, according to locals.

Luton Town’s ground is in The Bury Park area of the town, home to a large south Asian community which moved there in the 1970s and is the subject of author-journalist Sarfraz Mansoor’s biography Tales From Bury Park.

Stars such as Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah are set to turn up at Kenilworth Road, the league’s smallest stadium and near a bustling high street known for its Asian-owned fruit and vegetable stores, clothing shops and legal and financial advisory firms.

The town’s several Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi-themed restaurants and cafes anticipate they will have a roaring trade during matchdays with the home and away fans visiting.

Luton Town kick off their season in the top flight on Saturday (12) away to Brighton and have home games against West Ham and Wolves in the opening weeks of the 2023-2024 season.

A spokesperson for Luton Council told Eastern Eye: “The remarkable success of Luton Town achieving Premier League status means the international spotlight will be on Luton, and we can’t wait to showcase to the world the brilliantly vibrant Bury Park community – home to Luton Town FC and many south Asian businesses and community groups.

“Luton Town Football Club is an integral part of the local community, as we saw at the promotion celebrations when the people and businesses of Bury Park came out in huge numbers to give the players a magnificent send-off at the start of their open-top bus tour, including fireworks, dhol drummers, and children from local schools and community groups giving out flowers,” the spokesperson said.

“Sport can play a huge role in attracting business and inward investment, both through the direct benefits it brings and, perhaps even more important, through the changing culture and image that it can generate for the town.

Muhammad Ali at his Halal Fish & Chips shop

“The people and businesses of Bury Park will be at the forefront of that as they look forward to welcoming some of the world’s greatest players and clubs and fans and media from around the globe.”

Kenilworth Road is one mile from the town centre and train station surrounded by south Asian eateries and chai cafes. The hotel industry and bars are also set to receive a spike in trade when the team play their home games, particularly against teams with large away support such as Newcastle United and Manchester United.

Research has estimated that the financial boost for the area of a newly-promoted Premier League club is more than £200 million.

The figure can be broken down into £150.5m of direct income to the football club with spending by local employees, contracting with local businesses and spending away from their stadium accounting for around £60m.

Muhammad Ali and his family run Halal Fish & Chips which is near the stadium’s entrance and recently painted the shop front in the colours of the team, orange, blue and white.

Ali, who has four brothers who help out in the shop, told Eastern Eye: “For the Bury Park area the increase in fans will see more customers and benefit the community around here.

“We are definitely going to need more help, more staff.” He added: “We are very busy on football days already, there are queues and queues. British people like old school, traditional fish and chips.”

Kamran Uddin, a writer, said the Bedfordshire town has achieved its goal of being on the footballing map and locals are excited about seeing the Hatters face off against the bigger teams. He added: “There’s a buzz in the air and traders are starting to prep themselves accordingly for what could be a lucrative period for them.

“The stadium is in the heart of Bury Park, a bustling parade of Asian groceries, jewellery shops, fast food outlets and places of worship. It’s always very busy here and while there will be issues with traffic, businesses are looking forward to seeing a rise in footfall, especially from away fans.

Luton Town’s stadium

“I’m sure some food outlets and perfume shops will have stalls outside to give footy fans a sample of their goods. It will definitely help the local economy here.”

Luton Town are the first team in English football to reach the Premier League having been in the National League, the fifth division, after their relegation in 2009. They sealed promotion via the play-offs.

Jaffer Kapasi, who runs an accountancy and business advisory firm in Leicestershire, said: “Studies show that winning creates jobs and raises an immense amount of tax contribution.

“For example, Leicester winning the 2016 Premier League title boosted the economy by over £150 million supported by over 3000 jobs. Direct and indirect economic contributions will be massive, for example tourists will flood the region.

“Many of the businesses are owned by the Asian community particularly in the inner city – match days will be a win-win for all,” he said.

“The success of Luton Town will provide an additional platform for growth for the club and can be expected to attract investment into the region especially from the India subcontinent”.


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