The Bigger Picture: Are Luton Town's Modest Signings Sensible Or Stupid?

Luton have just signed Mads Andersen from League One Barnsley...
16:00, 03 Jul 2023

Luton Town are preparing for their very first season in the Premier League. Since winning the play-off final on penalties, the club have celebrated, held an open-top bus parade and their players have enjoyed well-earned holidays. But now thoughts have turned to the new campaign, and trying to survive in the richest league in the world. 

Chief recruitment officer and Luton legend Mick Harford has already got two signings over the line, but the type of player the Hatters have targeted has given a glimpse as to how they will approach the Premier League. Their most recent addition is Mads Andersen from Barnsley for a club-record fee believed to be north of £2m. 

The Tykes paid £900k for him in 2019, but since then he has emerged as one of their top players. Alongside current Luton duo Carlton Morris and Cauley Woodrow, he helped Barnsley get to the Championship play-off semi-finals, before sticking with the club as they were relegated to League One. 

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Having lost the League One play-off final to Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley have now been forced to sell Andersen to the Premier League outfit. For Luton, it feels like a signing they would have targeted whether they had got promoted or not, which means they are sticking to the system that has seen them climb from the fifth tier to the top tier in less than a decade.

Their club record fee is surely going to be broken several times this summer, but Andersen’s arrival, alongside that of Chiedozie Ogbene from Rotherham United on a free transfer, suggests they will not overspend in a bid to survive. Instead, they are building a squad that can compete at the top end of the Championship, should they get relegated at the first time of asking. 

But that’s no certainty. Luton have a unique sparkle about them and the pull of Kenilworth Road will play a big part in them picking up points next term. Also, Rob Edwards has continued the feel-good factor around the club, and with these types of signings, that close-knitted unselfishness that got them promoted will remain, rather than bringing in big egos on big wages. 

Luton Town are 9/4 to stay up*

Harford has already outlined Luton’s intentions as he told Sky Sports: “The core of the group that got us promoted, I honestly believe they deserve a chance in the Premier League and I think they will cope admirably. But we will need to add some quality and some strength, some depth and athleticism.”

Some will see that as naivety - there have already been calls that they will break Derby County’s record-low points total - but it is just Luton. It is the way they have always done things and they will relish being written off by the pundits, just because they haven’t spent big. When investment doesn’t provide any guarantees of success, it is better to stick to your guns. 

Luton have plans to build a new stadium with a capacity of 23,500, and that is set to cost in the region of £100m. Given they are having to spend around £10m to get Kenilworth Road ready for Premier League football, using the Premier League money to pay off their new stadium, rather than on expensive new players, is the best course of action. 

Next season, whether they stay up or not, Luton will be in a far stronger place. The new stadium is on the way and this little old club, playing in one of Britain’s most famous grounds, are ready to defy the odds once again. They wouldn’t have it any other way. 

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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