- Will Admiral Muskwe strike Gold?
THE Championship play-offs are upon us and one of Huddersfield, Luton, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United will be celebrating promotion at Wembley in just over two weeks’ time.
One of them will pocket about £200m and the others will get nothing.
There is a Zimbabwean interest in the battles.
Striker Admiral Muskwe is at Luton and is hoping to help them reach the English Premiership and get the huge windfall that comes with such a jackpot.
Should he succeed, he will become the third Zimbabwean in the world’s glamour league.
BBC Sport looks at some of the stories behind the ties as the quartet get ready to battle for a place in the Premier League.
The underdogs with bite
Few people would have predicted that Luton Town v Huddersfield Town would have been a play-off match back in August.
The Hatters had finished in 12th last season while Town had ended the campaign in 20th place, just six points above the relegation zone.
However, both sides have managed to defy the pre-season odds thanks to smart recruitment and quality coaching.
Luton boss Nathan Jones was awarded the Championship’s manager of the year award and you would assume Town gaffer Carlos Corberan was fairly high up in the running too.
The Terriers, who spent two seasons in the Premier League before being relegated in 2019, might have flown under the radar to some but they finished the season in third place after six wins and one draw from their final seven matches.
Luton, a non-league side as recently as 2014, secured their play-off berth on the final day. Promotion would see the Hatters, who were relegated from the top flight in 1992, become the 51st different team to play in the Premier League.
Some may think the pressure is off these pair compared to the Blades and Forest but given the difficulty of the second tier and the budgets of some of the teams they have outperformed this season, this good an opportunity to win promotion might not come around again any time soon.
Tempers flared during Huddersfield’s 2-0 win over Luton in April, with both clubs subsequently fined
Ending the hoodoo?
Blades fans might look back with some fondness at their semi-final success over Forest back in 2003 but their overall play-off record does not make for pleasant reading.
Eight attempts, no promotions.
As well as semi-final disappointments, Sheffield United fans have seen their side lose finals at the old Wembley, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the new Wembley.
Forest’s record in the play-offs is less storied but certainly no better, with three previous attempts all ending in failure.
Luton can also ‘boast’ a 100% failure rate in the play-offs, with four attempts, three of which came in successive years in the National League, all ending without promotion.
So, on that basis, Huddersfield Town are absolute experts in the field of winning promotion in the play-offs.
Indeed, the Terriers have won in their past two play-off final appearances despite not scoring in either match.
They beat the Blades in the 2012 League One play-off final 8-7 on penalties after Sheffield United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen sent his spot-kick over the crossbar and then defeated Reading by the same method five years later, although neither keeper was required to take a penalty that day.
This will be their 10th play-off campaign and they are looking to make it five promotions.
Championship play-off dates
Luton Town v Huddersfield Town (20:45)
Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest (16:00)
Monday, 16 May
Huddersfield Town v Luton Town (20:45)
Tuesday, 17 May
Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United (20:45) – BBC Sport/Sports Reporter