DAVID PYE: Luton Town are proof there is always a way back for troubled clubs

The Bolton News: David Pye David Pye

THE popular Looking Back section in the sports pages of yesterday’s The Bolton News made for interesting reading as it recalled the proposal of Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside to have a ‘Premier League 2’.

It has never been followed through but when you look at the standard of the Championship and the size of the clubs in the second tier, you could argue it has in all-but name.

In fact, only a quarter of the 24 teams have no experience of playing in the Premier League – those six being Yeovil, Doncaster, Millwall, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Brighton.

The calibre of club and the money they can spend on wages at the top end is not that much different to the bottom of the top flight.

Maybe that is why it is considered such a tough league to escape from with so many strong outfits competing for the three promotion places. But if anyone thinks it is the hardest to get out of then just one look at the Conference Premier will make you reconsider.

Like the Championship, the strength in depth of the top-tier of non-league football is huge.

It is not so much Premier League 2 as Football League 3.

This week saw Luton finally clinch promotion back into the Football League after a five-year absence and such has been their struggle, it has been a lengthy run of near-misses in search of the one automatic spot for the champions.

Having reported on football at that level for several years in my former posting as Grimsby Town writer before moving home to the North West, I have seen first-hand the nine-month grind to get back into the league for some traditional clubs.

Like the Championship, there are so many teams in the Conference that were staple to the league years ago.

Luton’s renaissance is some achievement for a team that fell from grace big time. Once a consistent member of the top-flight and Wembley winners in the Littlewoods Cup in 1988 they slipped down the glass pyramid like so many others.

Now after missing out in the play-offs three times in four years, they have clinched top spot and regained their Football League membership The Hatters are proof that every club has the capability to rise again – no matter how bad their situation gets.

Administration and financial irregularities have seen them docked a whopping 40 points in recent years but they dug in, rode out the storm and are now back on the up.

Just like fellow points deductees of recent years, Bournemouth and Rotherham, their dark days look to be behind them. Whatever the effect of forthcoming Financial Fair Play rules, these three clubs have shown there is always a way back.

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