Can We Do Multiple Things At Once – And Survive?
We're fighting a war on too many fronts
Can Crystal Palace do multiple things at the same time? That might seem like a silly question but over the years we have been fighting the good fight on a few different fronts and seem not to be doing very well at any one thing.
Conventional wisdom suggests it is better to concentrate on one thing at a time else risk doing multiple things poorly. We can do better than we are doing so maybe we should change our strategy?
Along came two investors
In January 2016 two billionaire American investors, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, bought into the club to become equal shareholders with Steve Parish.
According to the story fed to us at the time the money received by the club, £100m, was ring fenced . It would be used to expand and rebuild the Main Stand.
As time went on we were reassured that the money would still be available in the event the club was relegated and also the project would still go ahead if the unthinkable did happen.
We can all appreciate that the expansion of Selhurst Park is vital for the future of the football club.
I’m an American billionaire, get me out of here!
In the autumn of 2018 rumours began to surface that the Americans were looking to sell their stake in Crystal Palace. There has been a few different reasons suggested as to why they are looking to get out and for me it doesn’t really matter why.
In the spring of 2019 it was said that the Americans were looking to get £220m for their share of the club.
It is worth remembering that the two Americans and Steve Parish each own an equal share of the club.
If, or rather when, the Americans sell their share of the club the money received will go straight into their pockets not to the club. This may sound obvious to you but a lot of fans are under the impression that the figure being bandied around in the media is money that would go to the club.
Chicken and egg situation
So we have a chicken and egg situation. We need to increase match day revenue to be able to compete within the framework of Financial Fair Play but in order to do that we need to buy players to stay in the Premier League.
There is no point having a ground capable of holding 35,000 spectators is you can’t fill it because the club are hosting Reading in the Championship.
So the question is are we able to build expand the ground at the same time buying multi-million pound players to keep us in the Premier League, improving the academy and scouting network? There is only a finite amount of money available so something has to give.
We’ve heard that the club’s financial situation is close to the line. We spend over 80% of our income on wages which leaves little to spend on players each year, rumoured to be around £15m to £20m including fees and wages.
Chasing our tails
We’ve sold Arron Wan-Bissaka and it looks like Wilfried Zaha will be on the move too. Next summer Christian Benteke will leave on a free transfer and I’d expect Mamadou Sakho to leave then too, if not sooner. That is a lot of high earners coming off the books.
If we concentrated on getting the stadium expanded and invested in youth we would be providing a good foundation for the future. We would then be in a good position to handle any potential relegation at the end of next season.
Come the summer of 2020 we would have got rid of the club’s biggest earners and recouped the money we’d have lost on Benteke and Sakho.
We could invest now in young players with potential to build a team prepared for a promotion fight and life in the top flight instead of always looking to just about survive.
As the saying goes, we’re circling the plug hole and sooner or later we’re going to go down the hole. We need to be in a good position when that happens.
Southampton is a good example
I’m not advocating getting relegated, I am advocating concentrating on one thing and being proactive in preparing for the club’s future.
Southampton dropped down to the 3rd tier of English football after they built their new ground.
It was a combination of lack of funds and mismanagement that led them to two relegations in 3 seasons and then go into administration.
Southampton started the 2009/10 season in League 1 with Alan Pardew as their manager. Life couldn’t have looked worse for them… Though it got better because he left before the end of the season and then they had 2 promotions in 3 seasons to get to the Premier League a year before we achieve it.
So in 2013 not only did Southampton have a new ground, built a decade earlier but they had an infrastructure to support it with a decent youth and scouting set up.
Players such as Rickie Lambert, Sadio Mane, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Virgil van Dijk. They are just the ones who were sold to Liverpool for almost £200m!
Dunkirk spirit… and all that
Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take strides forward. Dunkirk is a good example of this. Retreating to fight another day isn’t failure, not if you are building and preparing for an assault from a stronger position.
Crystal Palace doesn’t have the infrastructure in place, we’re fighting a war on too many fronts.
We’re trying to improve the academy, improve the scouting setup, improve Selhurst Park and improve the playing squad. We don’t have the money to do them all at the same time.
If we did get relegated in May 2020 what would we have to show for being in the Premier League for a club record of 7 seasons?
A 3G pitch? A model of a new stand? (which is rumoured to have disappeared) A couple of nice ‘lounges’ for the people who sit in the Main Stand? (bars are for common people) Some nice cladding for the Main Stand? (let’s hope the cladding is fire safe because the Main Stand is made of wood!)
Apart from playing staff, what major differences are there between the club today and the club in 2009 under Simon Jordan?
Say what you like about him but under Jordan the club had a decent youth academy and the signings made under his ownership are still generating money for Crystal Palace today.
Prospects such as Victor Moses, Nathaniel Clyne, Wilfried Zaha, Johnny Williams, Sean Scannell, Neil Danns and Arron Wan-Bissaka (signed in 2008) to name but a few.