Remember the date – May 28, 2023. It’s the date that Luton Town football club celebrated their rise to the English Premier League. Thousands of fans flocked the streets of Luton, revelling in the team’s promotion. The football team itself boarded an open-top bus to parade around in, too. Even the Luton mayor encouraged fans to join in and “paint the town orange”. There is plenty to celebrate as well. Not only are Luton experiencing the Premier League next season. It also marks the team’s first venture into the top league of the EFL.
The team defeated Coventry on penalties to secure their spot in the Premier League. A set of six perfect penalty goals took place for Luton. Back in 1992, the team suffered relegation from the old first division. This saw them miss out on being part of the Premier League’s inaugural season. Now, they get to feel what it is like to be at the peak of English football once more.
Smallest Premier League Stadium
As a result of their promotion, Luton will receive around £170 million in future earnings. Kenilworth Road, the team’s home ground, is now the smallest stadium in the league. It has a capacity of 10,356 at the moment. It is, in fact, the smallest stadium the Premier League has ever had Kenilworth road holding 10,536. That is over 1,000 less than the previous smallest ground, Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium with a capacity of 11,379.
Yet work has already started on making some changes to the stadium. This should make it more friendly to the top-tier division. The £10 million renovation is set to complete before the Premier League season begins in 12 weeks. Diggers rolled in to redesign the Bobbers Stand, with most of it needing to be rebuilt. This will ensure it complies with requirements for media facilities and camera positioning, although it won’t increase the capacity.
The Premier League rules dictate that stadiums have to be able to accommodate at least 5,000 fans. While Kenilworth Road meets this, it is in the area of broadcasting and facilities that it falls short. Yet once the 1905-built stadium goes through its rebuild, it will be suitable. It marks the first redevelopment of the stadium since 2005. Fans also have to enter the stadium at the Oak Road end of the ground, which is on a row of terraced houses.
The Need for Change
The football club has its sights set on a new area of Luton for its stadium. In 2015, it highlighted the Power Court site as the preferred option. This exists in the town centre. Unfortunately, development has been in limbo, even though it got planning permission in 2019. Then, in March of this year, CEO of Luton Town FC, Gary Sweet said designs were complete. The new stadium is set to hold 17,500 spectators.
Even so, that will likely have to wait until the 2026/27 season at the very earliest. Work to construct such a stadium will cost around £100 million. That’s money that Luton cannot afford to part with at the moment.
Because the new stadium does not yet exist, Premier League games will take place at the current ground. Little work has occurred on this stadium, so away fans remain in the same place at Kenilworth Road. The away stand goes by the name of Oak Road Stand, and there is a typical allocation of 1,500 in this area. In fact, the away section, as it stands now, splits its capacity with home and away fans.
How Many Away Tickets Will Be Available?
In the EFL clubs have to give at least 2,000 away tickets or 10% of the stadium capacity. In the Premier League that number rises to 3,000 but stays at 10% if the capacity does not exceed 30,000, as is the case with Kenilworth Road. Therefore at a minimum there will be 1,036 away tickets allocated, however, given in the EFL Luton often gave more than 10% it is more likely to be closer to the 1,500 given for most EFL games.
Whether that capacity will increase for away fans now that Luton is a Premier League club is uncertain. This particular part of the stadium has garnered a lot of social media attention. Journeying to the seats takes fans through the gardens of neighbouring houses. Doubtless that would prove to be quite the experience for those more accustomed to venues like Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge.
Despite the dilapidated nature of the stadium it is expected that demand for away tickets will be higher than usual as fans want to visit a ground that heralds back to a previous era. There are very few grounds like Kenilworth Road left and many fans of Premier League clubs will want to go there given it is entirely possible the club won’t be in the PL all that long – even if they are they will be moving to the new ground in 3-4 years.