LUTON ONE GAME AWAY FROM A MIRACLE
Luton Town and Coventry City are just one game away from completing miracle promotion campaigns from the Championship to the riches of the English Premier League.
On Saturday the two clubs will meet at Wembley in the so-called richest game in football, the Championship Play-Off Final, aiming to join Burnley and Sheffield United at the top of the English footballing pyramid.
Coventry boss Mark Robins told reporters after his side's victory over Middlesbrough that this year's Play-off final was "one for the romantics" — and he has good reason.
Just five years ago Luton vs Coventry was a fixture you could find in England's fourth tier. Both clubs have overcome significant hurdles to get to this position, beating existence-threatening financial issues as well as more fancied — and far better backed — clubs to the play-off spots in one of the most competitive leagues in world football.
Winning the Play-offs could be worth as much as 135 million pounds over the next three seasons, according to analysis by Deloitte. If that club stays up the following year, the riches could blow out to as much as 265 million pounds over five years. hat is almost all down to TV broadcast money which goes up from around 8 million pounds per season to 100 million.
"It's wonderful for the town. If we can get promotion, we always know the town does better when the club does better, so fingers crossed," chairman David Wilkinson told the BBC. "The Premier League means everything. Financially it means we can move on quicker with all of our plans so it would be tremendous, but, [we're keeping our] feet on the ground." Luton boss Rob Edwards said it was "surreal" to be so close to the top flight. "We're one game away from the Premier League. It sounds special, it sounds surreal saying it," Edwards told the BBC after their 3-2 aggregate victory over Sunderland.
Those were sentiments echoed by Coventry boss Robins.
"We're playing Luton who have been through a fair amount themselves, but this is a special club with special fans and the fact they've got behind us so much is testament to everything we do," he told the BBC.
"The biggest achievement I think we've managed to do is reconnect with the fans — because there was a huge disconnect with the club. "They've come back together, and it's been phenomenal. It's changed beyond all recognition since I walked through the door in 2017 and hopefully, we can take the next step."
The action kicks off at 17:45 SA time and can be watched on DSTV.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]