Luton Town can learn from Brentford’s recent success and become a Premier League force
Luton Town’s story is a compelling one. 31 years ago, they were a top-flight club, but suffered an almighty fall into non-league football. The Hatters were outside the EFL pyramid as recently as 2014, but three promotions in the time since then have pushed them into the Premier League, confirmed with victory over Coventry City in the Championship play-off final.
The Premier League has welcomed small clubs before. Brentford are one of them and the Bees’ success over the last two seasons in the top flight provides Luton with encouragement and inspiration. They have given Luton a precedent to follow to ensure their stay in the Premier League isn’t a fleeting one.
Despite finishing ninth in this season’s Premier League table and taking 21 points off the traditional ‘Big Six,’ Brentford have never spent more than £20m on a single player. Good scouting and solid recruitment has allowed them to build a top-half team when they don’t have the resources to be competing at that level.
Thomas Frank took his Brentford team to the edge of European qualification and there’s a sense they could achieve even more going forward. The Bees have given themselves a good platform to build on and have a modern, atmospheric stadium which has helped foster a genuine connection with their supporters.
Luton Town have got this far using a similar model. Their record signing stands at just £2m yet they built a team that finished third in the Championship this season and got the job done in the play-offs, seeing off Coventry City and Sunderland. Just like Brentford, Luton are already punching well above their weight.
Now, the Hatters will have greater resources to target better players of a higher calibre, but they mustn’t lose sight of what has got them to this point. It would easy for Luton to now target players who don’t truly fit their style of play or identity purely because they are known names. Brentford have never done this, though.
“We’re not going to go mental,” Ron Edwards said after the play-off final win over Coventry. “We have to play to our strengths which is what we’ve tried to keep going since I’ve come in. We realise it’s going to be the biggest challenge ever. It is the best league with the best managers, the best players. We know how tough it is going to be. We will be sensible. The fans have seen some dark, dark times. It is great that we can give them a smile.”
Those dark times will give Luton Town some valuable perspective ahead of their first-ever Premier League season. They know what it’s like to be at the other end of the English football ladder and so there’s little chance of them growing complacent or expecting success to just fall on their lap. Luton will have to work for it.
The novelty factor around Luton Town in the Premier League will be unavoidable once the 2023/24 season starts. Kenilworth Road holds just over 10,000 fans and will require a series of upgrades to merely host top-flight football. Premier League fans will have to learn the names of players who have only played in the English lower leagues until now.
Not so long ago, though, it was Brentford introducing themselves to the Premier League for the first time. Doubters predicted they would struggle at the top level, but instead they thrived. Now, the Bees are the embodiment of what it is to be a modern, well-run club. There’s plenty for Luton to learn from the example they have set.