The mind-boggling figures that show how much Premier League promotion is worth to Luton Town

Luton Town's Allan Campbell celebrates scoring against fierce rivals Watford.
Luton Town's Allan Campbell celebrates scoring against fierce rivals Watford. Credit: PA

Despite their relative lack of financial firepower, Luton Town have defied the odds to make it to the Premier League.

The Hatters beat Coventry City in the Championship play-off final on Saturday to complete a remarkable journey from non-league to the top flight.

Promotion is a truly phenomenal achievement for a club who have one of the smallest wage bills in the Championship.

But just how much of a boost will a return to top flight football for the first time since 1992 bring to the club and the town as a whole?

ITV News Anglia spoke to respected football finance expert Kieran Maguire to get some answers.

  • Working miracles on a shoestring budget

Compared to the vast majority of clubs in the Championship, Luton don't have a lot of money to play with.

Their current squad was assembled for around £5.5 million, with a large chunk of those players having been signed on free transfers.

The Hatters aren't able to pay huge wages either. In fact, their average wage is thought to be between £7,000-£8,000 a week - well below the league average of £14,000 a week.

To put that in perspective, last season's Championship winners Fulham were promoted with an average wage of £40,000 a week.

"We've just seen Watford sell one of their players, João Pedro, for £30 million to Brighton, and we've got some squads in the Championship that have cost close to £200 million," Kieran Maguire told ITV News Anglia.

"So, for Luton to do it on such a budget is an incredible achievement."

  • A beacon of hope for other clubs

Wigan Athletic were one of two clubs in the Championship to be hit with a points deduction this season. Credit: PA

Chasing the Premier League dream can be life-changing if it comes off, but incredibly destructive if it doesn't.

Just this season, both Reading and Wigan Athletic were hit with points deductions for financial issues and were ultimately both relegated to League One.

In Wigan's case they failed to pay their wages five times in a year. Both examples should serve as warnings to other clubs about what can happen if you spend beyond your means, but there are no such worries at Kenilworth Road.

Luton are one of the best-run clubs in the Championship and are unlikely to risk their future on a host of big-money signings in the big time.

"Reading were paying £240 in wages for every £100 that came through the door," said Mr Maguire. "If that was any other business, you'd close it down immediately."

"Perhaps those clubs that are looking for a quick fix by simply signing a couple of players on Premier League wages can take note that there is an alternative, and this alternative doesn't gamble with the future existence of the football club itself."

  • How transformational is promotion for the club?

Nottingham Forest won last season's Championship play-off final. Credit: PA

The Championship play-off final is often touted as being the richest game in world football, and for good reason.

The winners receive a minimum of £100m in TV money alone, as well as an extra £3m for every place higher they finish in the Premier League table the following season.

So, the team which finishes 17th will earn £12m more than the club which ends up propping up the division.

It's a huge jump compared to the Championship TV contract where clubs like Luton are given around £10m a year.

Greater exposure on the world stage brings with it a whole host of additional commercial benefits too, such as more lucrative shirt sponsorship deals for example.

"Luton made a total commercial income of just £2m last year," said Mr Maguire.

"If you take a look at Luton's revenue, they bring in about £17 million a year. There's clubs in the Championship who are earning parachute payments of two-and-a-half times that, and that's before they even sell a single ticket.

"I would expect the level of revenue at the club to increase by 700%-800% [to around £136-153m) should they be successful and be promoted."

  • And how about the town as a whole?

Luton Airport could be among the local businesses to benefit if the Hatters secure Premier League football. Credit: PA

Premier League football can also make a huge difference to businesses in the local area.

When Brighton and Hove Albion were promoted in 2017, an economic impact report revealed that there was a £200m boost to the city.

Having a top flight team helps to attract more people who are then willing to spend money in local bars, restaurants and hotels.

In Luton's case, the town also possesses one of the busiest airports in the country - making it very accessible to football supporters from around the globe.

"If you take a look at matchdays, there'll be an impact upon the hospitality industry in the sense that you'll have people who are flying into London to watch matches and Luton will be an option for them," Mr Maguire said.

"The number of broadcast crews that come from all over the world will be spending a couple of nights before or after the match in the town itself.

"Also, as far as local businesses are concerned, they can now say that they are Premier League in terms of their ability to market themselves."

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