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Championship season review: Hats off to Luton after memorable campaign

The Championship once again proved to be one of the most entertaining leagues in the world this season and Luton's play-off victory showed that dreams really can come true.

With Burnley going up as champions and Sheffield United following behind in second, the Hatters managed to defeat Coventry on penalties in the 'richest game in football' over the weekend to secure their place in the Premier League for the first time. 

It is a remarkable story for Luton, who were playing in the Football Conference back in the 2009/10 campaign and were still down in League Two as recently as the 2017/18 season. 

While huge credit goes to the Clarets and the Blades for taking the top two positions in the table, the fairytale story certainly goes to the Hatters and the fantastic job manager Rob Edwards has done. 

There is, of course, dismay that also comes throughout the season and that was the story for the three relegated sides, with Reading, Blackpool and Wigan all dropping down to League One.

We should also spare a thought for Coventry who, like Luton, have had years of uncertainty and turmoil off the pitch, but came so close to realising what would have been a dream return to the top flight for them too.

2022/23 Championship 
Runners-upSheffield United
Play-off winnerLuton
RelegatedReading, Blackpool & Wigan

Kompany's stock continues to rise

Burnley made the decision to bring in Vincent Kompany in the summer, an appointment very different from previous incumbent Sean Dyche, and he proved to be exactly the right man for the job. 

The former Manchester City skipper had to oversee a huge squad overhaul that witnessed the likes of Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Nick Pope, Maxwel Cornet, Nathan Collins and Dwight McNeil all leaving Turf Moor. 

Kompany did have money to spend and the Clarets had the biggest expenditure of any Championship club across the campaign, but they were actually in profit in the end and that is testament to the astute signings the Belgian tactician and his team made. 

Burnley proceeded to amass 101 points - making them just the fourth team since the First Division was rebranded to the Championship in 2004/05 to hit a century - while they boasted the best attacking record (87 goals scored) and defensive record (35 goals conceded). 

Ahead of the 2023/24 Premier League, the Clarets are 8/1 To Finish in Top Half, 4/7 Not to be Relegated and 5/4 To be Relegated. 

Luton drink in Wembley glory

Despite having one of the lowest wage bills in the division and barely spending any money across the season, Luton defied the odds to firstly finish in the top six and then go on to win the play-off final. 

The Hatters had to deal with losing manager Nathan Jones to Southampton at the start of November, but they did exactly that with incoming boss Rob Edwards galvanising the squad and leading them to the Premier League. 

After overcoming Sunderland in the semi-finals, Luton drew 1-1 with Coventry in the final before edging out the Sky Blues on penalties to reach the Promised Land. 

It's a remarkable story for Luton, who were last seen in English football's top flight back in 1992 - the season before the Premier League launched - and have had to endure years of hardship and financial uncertainty to reach this point. 

Edwards' men are the 4/11 favourites To be Relegated in the 2023/24 Premier League, while they can be backed at 2/1 to avoid the drop.  

Reset needed for several clubs

The Championship is regarded as one of the toughest leagues to get out of and that proved to be the case for a number of former Premier League clubs, including West Brom, Watford and Norwich. 

Respective finishes of 9th, 11th and 13th prove exactly how hard it can be to earn promotion and all three of these clubs will be hoping for a solid summer transfer window to get them back on track. 

Middlesbrough, although finishing in the top six, are another who will have been disappointed not to have earned promotion and their semi-final defeat to Coventry shows they still have work to do. 

With Southampton, Leicester and Leeds all dropping down from the top-flight, the competition is only getting tougher in England's second tier and it is not a given for any of these teams mentioned to earn a place back at the top table any time soon. 

Destination League One for troubled trio

It was a season to forget for Reading, Blackpool and Wigan, who finished in the bottom three and will now all be aiming to secure instant promotion from League One next season. 

To make matters worse for the Royals and Latics, they both received points deductions for financial breaches over the course of this campaign and the issues facing the club are worrying. 

It is likely all three relegated sides will have to trim the fat and balance the books accordingly now they are dropping into the third tier, and it could prove to be a battle for all of them to head back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

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