Luton Town are going to Wembley – Just one step away from the Premier League
It has been quite the journey for The Hatters, who could very soon be a Premier League club after Luton Town reach the 2023 Championship Play-Off Final
Luton Town have been a club on the rise for quite some time now, and after beating Sunderland 2-0 at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night, they secured their place in the 2023 Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium.
This is the Hatter’s second Championship play-off campaign in as many seasons, and this year they have gone one step further after losing out at the semi-final stage last season to Huddersfield Town.
It may be a very positive time for Luton at the moment, but it has certainly not always been this way – the club has been on quite the journey over the last few years.
In 2007, The Hatters were a League One club looking for promotion under then-manager Kevin Blackwell. However, promotion was a strong possibility in the opening few weeks of the season, which ironically included a 3-0 win against Sunderland, who were in the Premier League then.
However, these initial good times were not to last, with the club going into administration in November 2007, which meant they were handed a 10-point deduction.
Due to the club’s financial difficulties and inability to sign players, the squad was decimated, with several key players departing.
Ahead of a match against Liverpool, a consortium including TV presenter and fan Nick Owen was named the preferred bidder to take over the club. Luton legend Mick Harford replaced Blackwell after a 5-0 defeat against the Reds at Anfield.
As a result of the turmoil at the club, relegation to League Two came after a 2-1 defeat against Brighton in April 2008. Unfortunately, due to failing to agree to a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA), 15 points were deducted ahead of the start of the 2008/09 League Two season. A further 5 points were deducted because this was the third administration in 9 years.
Matters were made worse when, soon after this initial points deduction, a further 10 points were docked ahead of the new season, meaning that the club started that season in League Two with -30 points.
The Nick Owen-led consortium officially completed a club takeover ahead of the new season.
The Hatters did go on to have an admirable season given the circumstances, ending the season 1 point away from wiping out their 30-point deficit and just 15 points from safety. Relegation was confirmed with Luton now a non-league football club.
Relegation meant that the club left the football league after being there for 89 years. It was play-off heartbreak in the 2009/10 Blue Square Premier (now Vanarama National League) season, losing in the play-off semi-final against York City after finishing in 2nd.
Fast forward to the 2013/14 season, and after several failed attempts, Luton was finally promoted back to the Football League after sealing the Conference title with an incredible 101 points. The club consolidated in League Two the following season (2014/15), finishing in 8th place and just outside the play-offs.
Nathan Jones took over ahead of the 2015/16 season, with Luton finishing in 11th. However, the following season was fantastic for the Hatters, finishing 4th, only to lose in the play-offs against Blackpool.
Promotion to League One was finally sealed come the end of the 2017/18 season, with the club finishing in 2nd place on 88 points, just 5 points behind league champions Accrington Stanley.
Consecutive promotions was not seen as a realistic possibility in their 2018/19 League One campaign, but this is precisely what happened. Despite the departure of Nathan Jones for Stoke City, Luton Town went on to win the third-tier title with 94 points with Mick Harford back in charge.
The Hatters’ promotion to the Championship came just ten years after they were relegated from the English Football League.
The 2019/20 saw Luton finish 19th. Their haul of 51 points meant they finished 3 points above the bottom three.
Nathan Jones returned to the football club in May 2020, ahead of the 2020/21 Championship campaign. Jones’ first full season since returning to The Hatters saw the club achieve a 12th-place finish in England’s second tier.
Last season (2021/22) saw Luton challenge for promotion to the Premier League, finishing in 6th place with 75 points after an excellent campaign. However, Jones’ side lost out in the play-off semi-finals, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Huddersfield Town.
After Jones departed the club for Southampton, Luton hired Rob Edwards as their new Head Coach. Edwards has since led them to a 3rd place finish, with the club now one step away from the Premier League. They will be facing either Coventry or Middlesbrough in the Play-Off Final.
Amazingly, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu signed for Luton whilst the club was in non-league and has played in every division. He and his club now have a chance to make more history with a potential promotion to the Premier League.