Tag Archives: Luton Town

Oh how much you’ve grown…

Belgium’s ex-assistant manager, Ivory Coast’s current assistant manager, Chelsea and Man City players on loan, an FA Cup winning midfielder and now an international goal scorer. Perhaps a low to mid table Premier League team? Maybe a top 2 level championship club? Wrong on both accounts. It’s Luton Town Football Club.

6 years ago today, Leicester City and Burnley were on course for promotion back to the Premier League and 5 current Premier League teams were playing in the Championship. Luton Town on the other hand, were playing and losing 2-0 away to Wrexham. Alex Wall was sent off that day, and as he walked down the tunnel I doubt anyone could have imagined the meteoric rise that would take place in the next 6 years.

In the week that James Collins made a scoring debut for the Republic of Ireland, it is only right that Luton fans remember the work that has gone in to reach the frankly dizzying heights of the Championship.

However, it is equally important to look to the future, and boy does it look bright. A new stadium under construction, a new retail park to help fund it. The playing squad is young and exciting and, most importantly, owners who are not willing to put the club’s future at risk for the sake of immediate glory.

It is easy to forget that just 6 years ago the Town were non-league. The international break was proceeded by back to back wins against two of last seasons premier league bottom three in Cardiff and Huddersfield.

The Championship: In a league of it’s own?

The gulf between the Premier League and the rest of the EFL has been well documented, and in recent seasons it has only continued to grow. However, it seems as though the jump from League 1 to the Championship is almost in the same ballpark now. I’m going to take a look at the finances and see how the newly promoted League 1 clubs (Luton, Barnsley and Charlton) could fair in the battleground that is the English Championship.

Let’s take wages as an example. The average basic wage in the Championship is around £330,000 a year, working out at about £6,300 a week. While this is nowhere near the dizzying heights of Premier League wages, it makes the £70,000 a year average for League 1 look rather small. That works out at £1,346 a week: a significant gulf is starting to emerge. The same can be said for agents’ fees. Last season, League 1 clubs paid a total of £2,611,647 to agents in a bid to sign players. That sounds like a lot money doesn’t it? So, what if I told you Aston Villa alone spent £5,510,180. That’s more than double the League 1 figure. So how can clubs be expected to thrive in the Championship on a League 1 Budget? I’m going to have a look at some past examples to see how clubs have fared making that jump.

In 2015-16, Wigan Athletic won League 1 to secure promotion to the Championship. By the end of the next season, they had regained their League 1 status, finishing 9 points adrift of safety. Then the next season, they were back up again. What does this yoyo tell us about the difficulty clubs have in maintaining themselves at Championship level?

It is obviously not impossible though. Some teams promoted from League 1 in recent memory include Wolves (Premier League), Bournemouth (Premier League), Huddersfield (Championship) and Brighton (Premier League). So it can be done. The newly promoted teams will face a level of competition and finances that they are not used to, so how will they get on?

Luton Town

Luton’s story has been quite remarkable. From the infamous -30 points season of 08/09, to near bankruptcy and then to 3 promotions in 6 years (going up from League 2 and League 1 in successive campaigns). They came into League 1 with a decent budget, but there were limited expectations. The budget and spending placed them around the playoffs, so to go on and win the league was a massive achievement. They are a prime example of how important good ownership is to a football club, and so my predicted finish for The Hatters in the Championship is 15th.

Barnsley

Barnsley have Championship experience as recently as 2017-18, being relegated after some ownership problems led to the selling of 80% of the club and the sacking of Assistant Manager Tommy Wright. New ownership gave the club momentum, as did the appointing of manager Daniel Stendel. Given the calibre of player that Barnsley have (some were retained from the Championship), my prediction for the Tykes is 13th.

Charlton

Charlton’s promotion was thanks to a unified group of players and management, and in spite of their owners. Protests continue against the owners off the pitch, but on it they were one of the best footballing sides in the league. The troubles with the owners may well make it difficult to make quality signings and investments, so a lot of trust will have to be put in the players that got them into the Championships to keep them there. My predicted finish for the Addicks is 18th.

Up and down in League Two

The basement division of the Football League, League Two, is highly competitive year in year out with teams ensuring they don’t fall through the trap door and into non-league football at one end and at the other, teams desperate for promotion and the opportunity to play some well established and reasonably sized clubs in League One.

Some big clubs have fallen out of the Football League and struggled to come back with the likes of Wrexham FC, Stockport County and Macclesfield Town to name a few still plying their trade in the non-league side of the game.

With this in mind, we take a look at the clubs who look like getting promoted this season and those who unfortunately look like falling out of the Football League.

Firstly at the bottom end of the table, Barnet FC who currently occupy the last place are going to need a miracle to survive. The ‘Bees’ find themselves 7 points adrift of safety and with just 1 win in their last 5 games, they look a team bereft of confidence. The club did this week part company with manager Graham Westley and immediately after announced that Martin Allen would be back in the hot seat for the FIFTH time.

Whether Allen can provide the great escape remains to be seen, but with the club still having to play teams around them this could provide them with a platform for that escape.

The other team in desperate trouble at the wrong end of the table are Chesterfield FC, who like Barnet have gone through a change of manager this season as they bought Jack Lester in to replace Gary Caldwell in September. Despite the change of management the ‘Spireites’ still find themselves in trouble as they are 6 points adrift of Grimsby Town who are just above them in the league table, and with the two sides locking horns in early April it could be the decider as to who ends up going down.

At the top end of the division sees the side with one of, if not the smallest budget in the league flying high. Accrington Stanley finds themselves top of the league 3 points clear of Luton Town with a game in hand and on a run of 9 games unbeaten.

John Coleman’s men have surprised many to be sitting top of the league with just 9 games to go, but having played some attractive attacking football and having 3 players in double figures with goals its hard to deny ‘Stanley’ top spot in the league table. If they can continue the terrific run they have been on then come May they will be lifting the league title.

Luton Town were the early pace-setters in the league but recent form has seen them slip to second place and on a run of 5 games without a victory it will be cause for concern for the ‘Hatters’ supporters, as they would prefer to go up automatically rather than via the playoffs.

If the club can rekindle some of the form that they were in at the start of the season then there is no reason why they can go up automatically and also push Accrington all the way to the wire in terms of who will win the league title.

Wycombe Wanderers occupy the final automatic promotion spot in League Two and find themselves 3 points ahead of the chasing playoff pack. ‘The Chairboys’ have plenty of firepower in their team with Craig Mackail-Smith, Nathan Tyson and Adebayo Akinfenwa but indifferent form in recent times hasnt helped the club consolidate a strong automatic promotion spot.

Just two wins in their last five games will be cause for concern for the Wycombe supporters but with the playing staff they have access to and the fact that they are the leagues second highest goal scorers behind Luton, they will be hoping that they can fire themselves to promotion.

League Two fans let us know who you believe will go up and unfortunately go down this season in the comments section…