PREMIER LEAGUE pundits were told to “eat their hats” as Luton Town Football Club were shown sky-high support ahead of their first match.
A grass painting has appeared on the flight path at London Luton Airport with the words “Pundits, prepare to eat your hats. Luton Town FC has landed”, written in giant letters.
Using over 500 litres of environmentally friendly paint and measuring the same width as its runway (2,275sqm), the message took two days to create and will be viewed by thousands of holidaymakers travelling through the airport over the next week.
The installation comes as excitement builds in the town ahead of the team’s first game against Brighton this Saturday.
The match will be Luton’s first in English football’s top flight since 1992 after beating the odds and earning promotion via the Championship play-offs at the end of last season.
Luton manager Rob Edwards said: “I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say that we are filled with immense pride and gratitude to our community.
“A tremendous thank you to London Luton Airport, for its remarkable show of support through the creation of this impressive good luck message on their flight path.
“This symbol of community will inspire the players for the games ahead and we hope we give fans a season to be proud of.”
The airport created the empowering artwork on behalf of the local community at Stockwood Park, Luton, as it sits beneath the airport’s flight path and close to the team’s training ground.
Following the team’s promotion, LLA is now the closest airport to a Premier League ground in the UK – just 3.1 miles from Kenilworth Road – meaning football fans from across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa can fly into the airport to see a Premier League game.
Neil Thompson, operations director at London Luton Airport, said: “As members of the local community for the past 85 years, we felt it was important to commemorate this historic moment for the town and for the team and wanted to cheer them on from a high-altitude, as well as on the ground.
“We’re hoping Pelly [Ruddock Mpanzu] and the entire team can spend the season in the Premier League flying high but, whatever happens, we’ll be there alongside the fans to support them – up the Hatters.”
Midfielder Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, who is the first player in footballing history to go from the non-league tiers of English football to the Premier League with the same club, visited the site to see the airport’s efforts to commemorate the team’s historical achievement.
Commenting on the design and his excitement, Pelly said: “The journey that this team and I have been on personally throughout my 10 years at Luton Town FC has been incredible.
“I’ve been bowled over by the love of the community during my years playing for the club, but seeing London Luton Airport create this today to cheer the team on has been out of this world.
“I can’t believe they’ve committed to showing their support by bringing their message and me to life on such a huge scale – we’re feeling confident for our first game and we’ll do all we can to prove people wrong.”
The newly appointed Premier League team recently travelled from the airport to Slovenia for their pre-season training camp.
The players were greeted to a warm welcome by LLA staff and passengers, and kindly posed for photographs and signed fans’ merchandise.
Kerri Skingle, a member of the guest experience team at London Luton Airport and an avid Luton Town fan, said: “The team’s promotion to the Premier League means so much to the people of the town, and it’s amazing that LLA wants to show the players this simple and friendly show of support for the upcoming season.
“It means a lot to the local community for the airport to stand behind the team on such a large scale and I feel really proud to be a part of it.
“We’re all behind the club and we wish them the best of luck in the match against the Seagulls this Saturday.”