Luton Town’s Emergence from Non-league Football to Premier League

Luton Town scripted an impossible-looking story by winning 6-5 on penalties against Coventry in the EFL Championship playoff final

The 2022-23 season of the Premier League met with numerous surprises. Adding to the sheer bewilderment, fans witnessed the relegation of the 2015-16 PL Champions, Leicester City, in addition to the promotion of obscure Luton Town. 

The Bedfordshire-based club might be barely known by the fans, however, the story of their journey to the Premier League is eminently formidable. In the peregrination full of ups and downs, starting from bankruptcy to point deduction, Luton witnessed everything.

The Hatters ended their season in the third spot, above the likes of former Premier League participants such as West Bromwich, Norwich City, and more. However, they had to participate in the playoffs to book a berth in the Premier League. After defeating Sunderland 3-2 on aggregate, Luton Town also took down Coventry City in the final on penalties (6-5) to complete their long-awaited dream.

However, overcoming all the possible challenges, they have finally completed their journey to English top-tier football after they took down Coventry City on penalties at Wembley in the EFL Championship playoff final in spectacular fashion. 

After Rob Edwards’ Luton Town’s earned a promotion to the English top-tier football, they decided to celebrate the occasion with an astounding parade on May 29. The parade received an extremely warm reception from the jubilant fans that wanted to see the football heroes who overcame all the odds to do the unexpected by holding the play-off trophy on the Luton Town Hall balcony.

Thus, let’s take a look at the staggering odyssey of Luton Town’s emergence from non-league football to the Premier League. 

How did Luton Town end up in non-league football?

The domestic league of English football acquires a five-step hierarchy. The Premier League is the first division of English football, which is followed by the EFL Championship, League One, League Two, and then the National League, which is also called the Conference Premiership. All the other divisions after the fifth are regarded as non-league football.

One of the oldest clubs in England, Luton Town was relegated from the top division of English Association football at the end of the 1991–92 season. In four years, they were dropped to the third tier of English football. Moreover, at the end of the 2000–01 season, misery struck the Hatters as they were further demoted to the fourth tier.

Following the dismal run full of uncertain decisions, Luton Town became a part of the Conference Premiership in 2007, following a distressing deduction of 10 points. In the next season, huge amounts of points were again deducted from the side’s total because of financial irregularities dating back several years. 

As a result of consecutive relegation from the English football pyramid, Luton Town found themselves in non-league football in 2009. At that moment, playing in the Premier League seemed like an impossible babble for the side. However, with a couple of improved performances over the years, 2013 finally brought the good news to them. 

Luton Town’s emergence to the top

The Hatters got back on the winning ways when John Still arrived in Bedfordshire in 2013. Still had similar experiences with other sides and he had also helped teams such as Dagenham and Redbridge earn promotions to the third tier.

Interestingly, the new in-charge managed to triumph in the National League in his first year at the club. However, he left the club in 2016, but his new head at Luton, Nathan Jones ensured the club’s progress as the Hatters got promoted to League One. 

Nevertheless, the story became more interesting when they managed to earn a promotion to the EFL Championship in 2019 after a whopping 12 years of sheer struggle. In the first season, they ended their campaign in the 19th spot, closely avoiding demotion. Their initial season wasn’t actually impressive, however, they kept improving by every single season.

In the 2020-21 season, they finished in the 12th spot with 62 points and they made a huge leap in the next season as they qualified for the promotion play-offs by ending their season in the sixth position. 

Locking horns against Huddersfield Town in the EFL Championship playoff semi-final, they came up short against the Terriers. Another blow followed the side as after working with Luton for two eventful years, Jones joined Southampton, which looked like a better side at that time as the Saints were playing Premier League football at the time.

Rob Edwards joined Luton Town from their arch-rivals Watford last year

Interestingly, the season Luton Town earned a promotion, Southampton got relegated, by ending last in English top-tier football with only 25 points. On the other hand, Rob Edwards, who was sacked by Watford in the middle of the season after almost four months of service, helped the Hatters earn moments of joy after a long time filled with misery. 

Joining the arch-rivals of the Hornets turned out to be a brilliant decision for the Welsh manager as Watford concluded their season in the 11th position in the EFL Championship, eight places behind Luton and will continue to fight for promotion to the first tier of English football in the 2023-24 season.

Luton Town could benefit highly from another promotion

In the last decade, Luton fans have seen their team move seamlessly from the fifth division to the first division and the same has been achieved by the club’s top hierarchy being minimalistic and not getting over their heads. 

Between the start of the 2018-19 season and the end of the 2022-23 season, the club recorded a profit of more than 8 million pounds with their most expensive signing coming at only 2 million pounds for striker Carlton Morris.

While the club would certainly have to increase its spending in this summer transfer window to elongate its stay in top-division football, being in the Premier League for even one or two seasons comes with its perks.

Along with the TV rights and the parachute payments in the next season, if the club gets relegated, Luton would earn up to 200 million pounds while if they are successful in maintaining their top-flight status, the club would bag around 330 million pounds in the same period as per British multinational company Deloitte.