Luton hold a parade to celebrate their Premier League promotion
Luton (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Luton celebrated their lucrative promotion to the Premier League with a parade in front of thousands of jubilant fans on Monday.
Rob Edwards’ side beat Coventry 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s Championship play-off final at Wembley.
The Hatters have defied the odds to reach the top-flight just nine years after they were playing in the non-league National Conference.
Luton will welcome Premier League champions Manchester City and the rest of the top-flight elite to their modest 10,356-capacity Kenilworth Road home next season.
Playing in the Premier League will be worth an estimated £170 ($210 million) in increased revenue.
It is an incredible achievement for a unfashionable club that last played in the top-flight in 1992 and almost went bankrupt during their plunge down the leagues.
Luton’s success has won the admiration of the football world, with thousands of supporters clad in the club’s orange colours lining the parade route to serenade their heroes.
“It means everything,” Edwards said before launching into a rendition of Bon Jovi’s ‘Always’ and holding aloft the play-off trophy on the Luton Town Hall balcony.
“It’s for you, the Luton Town people, for the town, these players who deserve it, for the backroom staff who work so hard, the board. We’ve got to enjoy this moment.”
Luton enjoyed a golden era in the top tier in the 1980s, winning the club’s only major trophy in the 1988 League Cup final against Arsenal.
They suffered a steady decline after that before gradually working their way back up to the Championship.
Edwards inspired this season’s promotion charge following his appointment in November in the aftermath of his sacking by Luton’s local rivals Watford.
Luton fans are determined to make the most of their club’s return to the big time, with some waiting nearly four hours to see players and staff make their way on to a stage in the town’s St George’s Square.
Highlights of the season and the play-off final were shown on a big screen before two open top buses arrived following a short ride from Kenilworth Road.
“The impact of being in the Premier League will be massive for this town,” Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet said.
“This could be a life-changing opportunity for us, but from a character point of view, don’t change.
“Let’s still be us, still grounded. Let’s keep humble.”