Coventry and Luton won promotion from League Two in 2018 – now a £300million Premier League prize money is on the line
Coventry against Luton in the Championship play-off final may not be the big-name encounter many had hoped for, but there are few teams more deserving of a place.
In a second tier that boasted names including Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Blackburn, West Brom, Watford, Norwich, QPR and others with Premier League history, the two finalists were unlikely to be favorites for promotion.
But few can dispute the journey they have made.
The winning team in Saturday’s play-off final at Wembley Stadium will receive at least £170million over the next three seasons, according to analysis by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.
That figure could rise to over £290million if the winning club avoid relegation after the first season in the Premier League.
For Coventry and Luton, those sorts of sums amount to a lottery and a Euromillions win rolled into one, especially given the financial difficulties that have followed each side over the past 15 years.
It was just five years ago, in 2018, when Luton and Coventry faced off in League Two, a campaign that saw both sides earn promotion to the third tier as they continued their respective journeys from the abyss.
Luton’s spell began in 2008 when the club received a 30 point deduction for matters involving player transfers.
The biggest points deduction ever given in EFL history, the Hatters had no chance to appeal the penalty and so started the 2008/09 campaign with -30 points, leading to their inevitable relegation of the EFL.
Luton then spent five seasons in non-league football, before ending their break from the Football League in 2014.
It was also a memorable season for Coventry, who had to fight against relegation (/caption)
For Coventry, their woes began in 2012 when the club were relegated from the Championship and forced to share the ground with Northampton Town due to legal issues over unpaid rent at the Ricoh Arena from ownership group, Sisu.
This led to the club going into liquidation in 2013 but was bought out by Sisu, who pledged to buy a new stadium for Coventry – a plan which was scrapped after just a few months.
The next four years were littered with legal battles off the pitch, before the Sky Blues were relegated to League Two in 2017.
Mark Robins took charge of Coventry that year and orchestrated their return to League One in 2018, before getting them promoted back to the Championship in 2020.
It was there they met Luton again, who were themselves back in the second tier after winning back-to-back promotions in 2018 and 2019 to send them down from League Two to the Championship.
Coventry boss Robins summed up the occasion perfectly: “People talk about travel, where we come from. This is one for the romantics.
“Luton come from the National League. I remember it well; Mick Harford in charge, 30 point deductions, it’s been a tough road for them, but it’s been a tough road for us and we’ve had our own stories of bad luck for several years.
“Hopefully we can fit in a game and manage to get back to the Premier League. We are one game away, they are one game away. To be part of this game is fantastic.
The Wembley centerpiece will be the perfect opportunity to put their past woes behind them and look to the future.
And, for a team, that future is in the Premier League.
Coventry vs Luton will be exclusively live from Wembley Stadium on talkSPORT this Saturday at 4.45pm, with commentary from Sam Matterface, Dean Ashton and Ian Holloway.